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China displayed its technological arsenal with a number of air surveillance radars at the 11th Zhuhai Air Show in China. Among them were state-of-the-art radars capable of detecting hostile aircrafts such as the F-22 and F-35.
A priority in the Chinese army has been developing new radars to counter threats from fifth-generation fighters. One of the radars on display was the JY-27A 3-D long-range surveillance/guidance radar. It adopts 2-D electronic scanning in azimuth and elevation, and it is stated to be resistant to jamming.
According to shephardmedia.com, there are unverified claims that the radar can pick up hostile stealth fighters at ranges of up to 500km. If these reports are accurate, such Chinese radars could swiftly nullify the advantages of stealth aircraft.
Yet another radar system was the JY-50, this being a 2-D passive system. The Chinese armed forces (PLA) said it was ‘mainly for air surveillance and early warning in silence of vital and critical areas’. This truck-mounted digital radar is claimed to have an ‘excellent stealth target detection capability’.
It is unclear which radar types have been deployed by the PLA on its South China Sea islets, though they have certainly been deployed there to monitor airspace. There is genuine fear that China will unilaterally declare an air defence identification zone there in the future.
Although there was no mention of it at the Zhuhai show, NRIET is working on a radar utilising quantum technology, according to the PLA Daily. Such quantum-based radars mounted on vehicles or aircraft could detect stealthy aircraft at long ranges. CETC is also working with scientists at the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei, Anhui province, which has achieved many breakthroughs in quantum physics, including developing the world’s first quantum satellite. CETC reported in September that the country’s first single-photon quantum radar system could detect stealthy aircraft at a 100km range using quantum entanglement. DARPA and Lockheed Martin are investing in similar radar technologies.
With regional countries such as India, Japan and South Korea joining the US in inducting stealth fighters in coming years, China’s radar capabilities, whether hyped up or not, will give them pause for thought.
The exhibition of these radars at the Zhuhai Air Show also shows what technology is also available to export clients. It must be noted too that the technology utilised by the PLA will always be more capable than what is offered to foreign customers.