Updated 2:12 PM EST, Wed, Jan 29, 2020

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Photos Reveal Mock-Up of China's AEW&C Aircraft

Xian Y-20 Finishes Column-Mouunted Air Force In Chengd

(Photo : Getty Images) Large military transport aircraft Xian Y-20 parks at an air force base after column-mounted air force on July 7, 2016 in Chengdu, Sichuan Province of China. Developed by Xi'an Aircraft Industrial Corporation and officially launched in 2006, the aircraft Y-20 is the first cargo aircraft to use 3-D printing technology to speed up its development and to lower its manufacturing cost. It can be deployed in the transportation of personnel and heavy equipment during military assault, and humanitarian assistance and peacekeeping missions. It can also be configured for airborne early warning and control (AEW&C), anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and aerial refuelling missions.

Photos of what appears to be a full-scale model of a Chinese navalized airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft are making rounds on the Internet, the IHS Jane reported.

The images, which first appeared on Jan. 26 on the social media app Weibo, pictured the aircraft mounted on land-based carrier mock-up near Wuhan City in China's central Hubei Province. The AEW&C aircraft resembles to the Northrop Grumman E-2 Hawkeye.

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Some suggested that the pictures could indicate that Beijing is developing an aircraft-carrier equipped with catapult-assisted takeoff but arrested recovery (CATOBAR), since a catapult is needed for an E-2 Hawkeye-type craft to take off from an aircraft carrier, according to Sputnik News. For this reason, the aircraft is not compatible with other carrier like China's Liaoning, which is a short takeoff but arrested recovery carrier (STOBAR).

Photos showing upgrades have been proven to be true, at least twice in 2016. It can be recalled that last August, images revealed that China's Type 002 carrier, the country's third carrier, will be equipped with catapult. And the ski-jump section has been removed.

Then last September, pictures of a Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (SAC) J-15 surfaced. It featured alterations on its front undercarriage, allowing the aircraft to carry out catapult-assisted take-offs.

Currently, there are several AEW&C programs on the People's Liberation Army's pipeline. The development of the AEW&C aircraft may pave way for China's future carriers with a wider range of capabilities to offer, and potentially going head-to-head with that of the US carrier air wings or naval technology.

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