Friday, January 4, 2013

Chinese Navy future Maritime Patrol Aircraft Y-8FQ Cub/GX-6 has started its flight test campaign

The ASW (Anti-Submarine Warfare) variant of Y-8, the Y-8FQ Cub (also known as GX-6 for High New 6) first surfaced on the Chinese internet in November 2011 as we reported at the time. A new picture just surfaced showing the PLAN future Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) in flight, indicating that flight tests for the time have already started.

The Y-8FQ is based on the Y-8 Transport aircraft by Shaanxi Aircraft Company, equipped with four WJ-6C turbofan engines with 6-bladed propellers. The tail of the plane has been modified to improve handling at low speed and low altitude as request by Maritime Patrol Aircrafts mission profiles, when on ASW missions. On such mission the MPA would use its MAD (Magnetic Anomaly Detector) boom to detect submarines. This boom is clearly noticeable at the tail of the Y-8FQ.

From the picture above, we can note that the Y-8FQ is fitted with a chin radome probably housing some kind of maritime surveillance radar. It is also fitted with an Optronics turret and several antennas both at the top and at the bottom of the fuselage. Finally, note the weapon bay doors just in front of the main landing gear, as well as the large bulbous window at the rear for visual observation.

All in all this new Y-8FQ Cub/High New 6 Maritime Patrol Aircraft has all the attributes of a capable MPA like the P-3 Orion, Atlantique II or IL-38. The first Y-8FQ MPA will likely be operated by 2nd Naval Aviation Division 6th Regiment Dalian-Tuchengzi.

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