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China is showing off some of its most advanced weapons and fighter jets. The country’s largest air show is underway in Zhuhai. Among the aircraft on display is the J-16D, an electronic warfare fighter that’s designed to jam radars and erode anti-aircraft systems. China is only the second country in the world to develop this type of plane, after the United States. Huang Fei takes a closer look.
HUANG FEI Zhuhai, Guangdong Province “This is the J-16D, a bright new star in China’s growing constellation of anti-access, area-denial weapons. It’s a variant of the J-16 strike plane. “D” comes from the Chinese word for “electronic,” diànzǐ. This is not a plane that will go into short-range dogfights, instead it’s designed to jam, deter and attack the enemy’s air defense system.
The plane has an electronic warfare pod on each wing, and its fuselage is lined with antennas. And there are plenty of hard-points under the plane to hang anti-radiation missiles. Those typically target hostile radar.
The People’s Liberation Army insignia indicates that it has been in service for the military. The craft will act as a guardian in the sky for the J-20, China’s most advanced stealth fighter jet, flying in Zhuhai for the first time on domestic-made engines.
The KJ-500 early warning and control aircraft, also on show here, will be the eyes and ears of the entire fleet. Experts say the J16-D is evidence of China’s vastly improved electronic warfare power, and shows the military’s interest in developing specialized aircraft that will offer a full spectrum of air defense power. Huang Fei, CGTN, at the Zhuhai Airshow.”