Yun-8X Maritime Patrol Aircraft
The Y-8 maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) is the land-based maritime patrol and anti-submarine warfare aircraft based on the Shaanxi Aircraft Industry Corporation Y-8 turboprop transport. A small number of the aircraft has been operational in the PLA Naval Aviation Corps since the mid-1980s. This was the first special purpose variant of the Y-8 military transport aircraft being developed.
In 1983, Shaanxi Aircraft Company (now Shaanxi Aircraft Industry Corporation) was requested to develop a special purpose aircraft on the basis of its Y-8 turboprop transport aircraft (Chinese licensed copy of the Soviet/Russian An-12 Cub) that can perform long-range maritime patrol, reconnaissance, and search and rescue (SAR) missions. The development task was officially assigned to Shaanxi in October 1983, with the target set to deliver the first plane to the PLANAF in 1984. The design proposal by Shaanxi was approved in November 1983.
The Y-8MPA is based on the airframe of the basic variant Y-8 transport aircraft, but fitted with upgraded avionics and various mission equipment for long-range maritime flight. The aircraft is equipped with search radar, omega navigation system, self-defence electronic countermeasures (ECM) suite, optical/infrared cameras, sonobuoys, and sonar receiver. The rear cargo door was removed and replaced by a large mission equipment window for sonobuoys racks and cameras. The rear turret was also removed and replaced by the sonar operator seat.
Shaanxi achieved to finish the development in less than a year, issuing 11,000 pages of blue prints and conducting over 20 tests. The first Y-8MPA was delivered to the PLA Navy in late 1984, and the aircraft received national design certificate in 1985. A Y-8MPA plane conducted five reconnaissance missions to the Xisha (Paracel), Zhongsha, and Nansha (Spratly) Islands in the South China Sea between March and June 1986, covering a total journey of 17,000km. The aircraft obtained a large amount of aerial photos of these islands, which were regarded as highly valuable to support the PLA’s operation in the region later.
Since the late 1990s, Y-8MPA aircraft of the PLA Naval Aviation Corps have been frequently spotted operating in the East China Sea region, chasing foreign warships and flying near foreign airspace. Some of these planes are believed to be fitted with special mission equipment for electronic and signal intelligence (ELINT/SIGINT) missions. Both South Korea Air Force and Japan Air Self-Defence Force have sent fighter jets to intercept these Y-8MPA planes in the past to stop them flying too close to their airspace.
The Y-8MPA has been extensively upgraded with improved avionics and mission equipment. The aircraft is equipped with Litton (now part of Northrop Grumman) APSO-504(V)3 surface search radar accommodated in the under-chin radome. The aircraft is also upgraded with improved radio, inertial navigation system (INS), Omega global navigation system.
Mission equipments include: infrared submarine detecting set, medium-/high-altitude optical camera, low-altitude optical camera, infrared camera, sonobuoys, sonar receiver, UHF radio marker beacon receiver, and five-man/single-man life boats. The aircraft has been added with an additional seat for the radar operator, and the original tail cannon turret on the Y-8 was removed and replaced by the sonar operator cabin.
Additionally the aircraft is also fitted with self-defence electronic countermeasures (ECM) suite consisting of all-aspect radar warning receiver (RWR) and chaff/flare dispenser.
Flight crew: 5
Mission crew: 2~4
Empty weight: 35,488kg
Normal take-off weight: 54,000kg
Maximum take-off weight: 61,000kg
Cruising speed: 550km/h
Maximum speed: 662km/h
Service ceiling: 10,400m
Max climb rate: 10m/s (sea level)
Range: Ferry range 5,620km
Flight endurance: 10.5 hours
Runway: Take-off 1,270m; landing 1,050m
Last update: 23 February 2009