The Y-8X or Y-8 MPA is a four-engine turboprop maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) in service with the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN). It is a land-based maritime patrol and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) aircraft, based on the Y-8 turboprop transport aircraft. The aircraft was developed and built by Shaanxi Aircraft Industry Corporation, a subsidiary of AVIC 1.
It is the first long-range maritime patrol aircraft of the PLAN. The PLA Naval Aviation Corps operates a small fleet of the aircraft.
The Y-8X development programme was commenced in 1983 when Shaanxi Aircraft Company (now Shaanxi Aircraft Industry Corporation) proposed the development of a special purpose aircraft based on the Y-8 turboprop transport aircraft. The Y-8 is a Chinese licensed copy of the Soviet / Russian An-12 Cub aircraft. Y-8X is the first special mission variant derived from the Y-8 military transport aircraft. The development project was assigned to Shaanxi in October 1983 and design proposal was approved by the PLAN in November 1984.
The aircraft development was concluded with the completion of flight tests in less than a year. The first Y-8 MPA was delivered to the PLAN in late 1984. The aircraft received national design certification in 1985.
Design and features
The Y-8 MPA is based on the airframe of the Y-8 transport aircraft. The design incorporates high-mounted wings with drooping outer wing panels. The aircraft has a stepped cockpit and glassed-in nose. A large cylindrical radar dome is installed under the nose. The tail flats mounted on the fuselage are pointed with blunt tips. The landing gear pods are fitted on the midsection of the lower body.
The aircraft is fitted with infrared anti-submarine detection equipment including sonobuoys and a sonar receiver. There are low-altitude and medium to high-altitude optical cameras, and an infrared camera installed for aerial imagery.
The rear cargo door has been removed to accommodate the mission equipment window. An additional seat has been provided for the radar operator. The sonar operator cabin is added in place of the tail cannon turret on the Y-8 aircraft. Emergency equipment includes five-man or single-man lifeboats.
The Y-8X can perform maritime patrol, surveillance, anti-submarine warfare and search and rescue (SAR) missions. The aircraft conducts patrols in the East China Sea region. The PLAN also deployed the aircraft in various reconnaissance missions to collect aerial photos of the islands near the South China Sea. The aircraft can also be equipped for electronic and signal intelligence missions.
Y-8X Countermeasures and avionics
The Y-8 MPA features an upgraded avionics suite and mission equipment. The aircraft is equipped with Doppler navigation radar, radio compass, radio altimeter, beacon marker receiver and identification friend or foe (IFF).
There is an APSO-504(V)3 surface search radar housed in the under-chin dome. The aircraft also features an inertial navigation system (INS) and Omega global navigation system.
The aircraft is equipped with a self-defence electronic countermeasures (ECM) suite, which consists of an all-aspect radar warning receiver (RWR) and chaff / flare dispenser.
The aircraft can fire chaff / flare to deceive incoming anti-aircraft missiles.
The Y-8X is powered by four WJ-6 turboprop engines mounted under the wings. Each engine, driving four four-bladed propellers develops a power output of 3,170kW.
The aircraft is fitted with tricycle landing gear consisting of a carbon brake system with electronic anti-skid and non-tube low-pressure tyres. The landing gear improves the temperature during take off and landing, performance and adaptability of aircraft for short runways.
The Y-8 MPA can conduct day or night operations during all weather conditions. The aircraft can fly at a maximum speed of 662km/h. It has a range of 5,620km and service ceiling of 10,400m. The flight endurance is 10.5 hours. The aircraft can climb at a rate of 10m/s. The maximum take-off weight is 61,000kg.