Chinese Y-8 GX6 Maritime Patrol and Anti-submarine warfare aircraft

The Y-8Q (also known as the Y-8GX6), is the Chinese Navy’s first true modern maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) capable of performing anti submarine warfare (ASW) missions in line with ASW MPAs of other international navies.

Chinese Y-8 GX6 Long Range Maritime Patrol and Anti-submarine Warfare Aircraft spotted while it was Airborne during testing

Despite having a Y-8 prefix, the Y-8Q is actually based upon the modernized Y-9 tactical airlifter, rather than the older Y-8. The major differences between Y-8 and Y-9 lie in the Y-9’s improved engines (featuring upgraded WJ-6C (Wojian-6C) turboprops rate at 5,100 hp with six bladed JL-4 high efficiency blades, compared to the older four blade turboprop on Y-8s), as well as featuring a modern glass cockpit with modern avionics, and improved cargo handling bay as well.

Y-9 Multi-Purpose Transport AircraftY-9 Multi-Purpose Transport Aircraft dimensionY-9 glass cockpit

The “Q” suffix of Y-8Q, refers to the Chinese word “qian” which is likely short for “qian shiu ting” (submarine), thus asserting the ASW nature of the Y-8Q. The Y-8GX6 designation is a reference to the aircraft being the sixth of the “GaoXin” (High New) special mission aircraft based off the Y-8/9 platform. Other aircraft of the “GaoXin” family include the Y-8W/Y-8GX5 AEW&C aircraft, as well as the Y-9JB/Y-9GX8 ELINT/SIGINT aircraft.


Y-8W/Y-8GX5 AEW&C aircraft



An ASW MPA variant of Y-8 had been speculated for much of the 2000s, but prototypes were only sighted in late 2011. The relative lateness of the appearance of a Chinese Naval ASW MPA may reflect increasing confidence of the Chinese military in its ability to contest airspace beyond its borders in the East and South China Seas where ASW MPAs would most likely operate. The appearance of Y-8Q may also reflect the Navy’s approval of the maturity and performance of vital subsystems necessary for a true ASW MPA, which may include sonobuoys, surface search radar, datalinks, and weapons integration.


1572113_-_mainY-8X, the first limited production, limited capability MPA based off the Y-8 airframe

This version is characterized by a larger cylindrical radar radome under the nose similar to that on H-6 bomber.


The Y-8Q features two ventral weapons bays, and as part of its ASW mission, it would likely carry air-dropped airborne torpedoes. The number of torpedoes carried internally is difficult to judge, but a cutaway diagram from semi-official Warship Knowledge magazine (published by the China State Ship Building Corporation), suggests each bay can carry four torpedoes for a total of eight. The weapon bays are likely also capable of carrying depth charges and air dropped mines.

An artist's depiction of the likely configuration and payload of Y-8Q's weapon bays, from Warship Knowledge magazine, a magazine published and sponsored by Chinese state shipbuilder CSSCAn artist’s depiction of the likely configuration and payload of Y-8Q’s weapon bays, from Warship Knowledge magazine, a magazine published and sponsored by Chinese state shipbuilder CSSC

It is also common for MPAs to carry anti ship cruise missiles as part of their weapons loadout, but has yet to be sighted with wing mounted racks for such missiles. It is also possible for Y-8Q to carry smaller diameter or folding wing AShMs within its weapons bay, but such an arrangement would likely limit Y-8Q to only carry smaller (and thus lighter and shorter range) missiles.

Main sensors

Typical sensors and avionics of an ASW MPA include a surface search radar, an electro-optic/infrared sensor turret, sonobuoy launchers and a large number of sonobuoys carried internally, datalinks to communicate with sonobuoys as well as friendly forces, passive electronic support measures (ESM), and a magnetic anomaly detector.

Full Y-8Q cutaway from Warship Knowledge magazine, which displays a variety of subsystems within the ship. The accuracy of certain features may not reflect actual configuration in real life, and it is unknown how much artistic license was takenFull Y-8Q cutaway from Warship Knowledge magazine

The Y-8Q is equipped with the following sensors:

-A large surface search radar is mounted on its chin. The radar is likely to be a mechanically mounted, phased array type, given recent offerings from the Chinese radar industry.

-An EO/IR sensor turret is mounted on Y-8Q’s belly, between the forward landing gear and the weapons bays.

-Four sonobuoy launch tubes have also been identified, between the rear landing gear and the weapons bays. These are likely to be reloadable from the aircraft’s cabin, where sonobuoys are stored in racks. Indeed, this is how the cutaway diagram from Warship Knowledge magazine depicts it, and is a logical arrangement similar to that of other modern ASW MPAs.

Suspected sonobuoy tubes on Y-8Q, highlighted in red. Four such openings exist, two on either side of the aircraft's belly, directly posterior to the main weapons bay, and anterior to the aircraft's aft landing gearsonobuoy launch tubes

-A variety of antennae are visible mounted on Y-8Q’s belly fuselage, and there are likely a number of less visible conformal antennae around the aircraft as well. The role of these antennae likely include datalinking to sonobuoys, datalinking to friendly manned forces, datalinking to provide midcourse guidance for long range missiles, and some antennae likely are ESM sensors as part of the aircraft’s signals intelligence suite and defensive aids suite. Up to four optical apertures around the aircraft are likely to be Missile Approach Warning Sensors.

-A very large MAD tailsting is the most distinctive feature aboard Y-8Q.

– Y-8Q also features two half-spherical observation ports on both sides of the aircraft’s aft fuselage, where the human eyeball is still very useful for search and rescue missions.

Y-8Q likely also features a number of multirole mission consoles in its mission cabin, along with a mission planning area, and a rest area featuring bunks for long duration missions. Curiously, the cutaway diagram from Warship Knowledge magazine depicts at least five consoles arranged in Y-8Q’s cabin in a non-adjacent manner, more similar to the arrangement of legacy P-3 variants rather than modern ASW MPAs where all consoles are arranged in a single line.

Close up of Y-8Q's console configuration as suggested by the Warship Knowledge cutaway. Such an arrangement is more reminiscent of older P-3 configurations rather than modern surveillance aircraft of both Chinese and other non-Chinese types. Whether the actual Y-8Q fields such an arrangement has yet to be seen

First Chinese designed new generation Maritime Patrol and Anti-submarine Warfare Aircraft was spotted once again. This time aircraft was spotted in operational color scheme, indicating that first Chinese Maritime MPA /ASW aircraft is about to start operational service with Peoples Liberation Army Naval Air Force.

operational Continues Flight Testing of Y-8 GX6 Maritime Patrol & Anti-submarine Warfare Aircraft 18 2015 (2)

Specifications (Y-8)

Data from[24]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 5, or 3, or 2 (Y-8F600)
  • Capacity: ≈90 equipped troops
  • Payload: 20,000 kg (44,000 lb) cargo
  • Length: 34.02 m (111 ft 8 in)
  • Wingspan: 38.0 m (124 ft 8 in)
  • Height: 11.16 m (36 ft 8 in)
  • Wing area: 121.9 m² (1311.7 ft²)
  • Empty weight: 35,490 kg (77,237 lb)
  • Useful load: 20,000 kg (44,090 lb)
  • Loaded weight: 61,000 kg (134,500 lb)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 61,000 kg (134,480 lb)
  • Powerplant: 4 × Zhuzhou WoJiang-6 (WJ-6) turboprops, 3,170 kW (4,250 hp) each



Twin 23 mm cannon tail turret (early models only)


Updated Aug 02, 2017


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