ShuiHong-5 Amphibious Aircraft
The SH-5 (Shuishang Hongzha-5, or ShuiHong-5) is the amphibious aircraft developed by Harbin Aircraft Manufacturing Corporation (HAMC) in the 1980s. As its designation implies, the aircraft was originally intended for anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare, but lack of suitable weapons resulted in only four examples being built for maritime patrol and surveillance role.
In the 1960, the PLA Navy demanded an indigenous amphibious plane to replace its ageing Soviet Beriev Be-6 (NATO reporting name: Madge) amphibious plane. The development task was assigned to the Harbin Aircraft Factory (now HAMC) in 1968, and the first prototype was completed in 1971. The floating test of the SH-5 was carried out in 1971 and the aircraft was first airborne on 3 April 1976. However, the operational deployment with the PLA Navy did not begin until 1986 due to the political and technical reasons.
The SH-5 was developed based on a large number of existing technologies. The aircraft has an unpressurised cabin and four underpowered turboprop engines, making it only suitable for low- to medium-altitude flight. Although this weakness does not cause major problems for the aircraft's low-altitude patrol flight profile, it does mean that transit flights between base and any distant operational area have to be flown at comparatively low altitude and therefore reduced speed.
The SH-5 was originally scheduled to carrying the YJ-1 (C-101) supersonic ramjet-powered anti-ship missile for surface strike role. However, the development of the YJ-1 had encountered serious technical problems and the project was eventually given up in the late 1980s. As a result, the SH-5 only carries unguided bombs for strike mission, putting the value of the aircraft highly questionable. The PLA Navy was apparently unsatisfied with the aircraft’s performance and the production was stopped after only four examples were delivered.
Meanwhile the four operational SH-5s are operated by the PLA Navy North Sea Fleet in a dedicated seaplane base near Qingdao, Shandong Province. They are mainly used for maritime patrol and surveillance missions. Unconfirmed report indicated that some, if not all, SH-5s are fitted with electronic intelligence (ELINT) equipment. At least one SH-5 has received special modifications for fire fighting role, enabling it to carry 8 tonnes water in its fuselage.
The four-engine SH-5 mimics certain features of the Russian Be-12 (NATO codename: Mail) and the Japanese Shin Meiwa US-1A. The aircraft is of all-metal construction with a single-step hull, a high-set wing, a high-set dihedralled taiplane with endplate vertical surfaces, and retractable tricycle landing gear with single-wheel main units and a twin-wheel nose unit. The wing has a flat, constant-chord centre section that includes the inner two engines, and then increasing anhedral on the two tapered outer panels on each side.
The aircraft is equipped with basic radio communication and navigation equipment, plus (offensive sensors) Doppler search radar with its antenna in a nose 'thimble', MAD in a tail 'sting' and sonobuoys in a rear-fuselage dispenser, and (cabin displays) acoustic data processing system and tactical display system, and (navigation) INS.
The aircraft has two Type 23-1 23mm cannons in a dorsal turret. Up to 6,000kg of disposable stores can be carried in a rear-fuselage weapon bay rated at 6,000kg and on four hardpoints (all under the wings). The weapon bay carries mines, depth charges or bombs, while the underwing hardpoints are used for two YJ-1 (C-101) anti-ship missiles on the inner units and up to six lightweight homing torpedoes, depth charges or other disposable weapons on the outer units.
The SH-5 is powered by four DongAn (DEMC) Wojiang-5A1 turboprop engines, each rated at 3,150ehp. Internal fuel capacity is 13,417kg, with no external fuel tanks available.
Flight crew: 5
Mission crew: 3 (supplemented as required), or passengers, or 10,000kg of freight carried in the cabin
Empty weight: 25,000kg (for search & rescue and tansport missions); or 26,500kg (for anti-submarine warfare mission)
Normal take-off weight: 36,000kg
Maximum take-off weight: 45,000kg
Maximum speed: 556km/h
Service ceiling: 10,250m
Range: Ferry range 4,750km
Flight endurance: 12~15 hours (with two working engines)
Last update: 20 March 2009