ZDK-03 Karakoram Eagle AWACS
ZDK-03 is an export AWACS system being developed for the Pakistani Air Force. This project was initiated in the early 2000. A prototype (serial # T0518/Project 021) based on Y-8 Category II Platform was first discovered at CFTE in early 2006.
Unlike KJ-200, this variant carries a tranditional rotodome above its fuselage, with a mechanically rotating antenna inside. Therefore the Y-8 AWACS was speculated to be developed for the export market only as it appears less advanced than KJ-200 which features a fixed AESA radar.
However this design does provide a true 360° coverage. The AEW radar may be the product of the 38th Institute/CETC, but no details are available. The aircraft also features a solid nose with MAWS sensors on both sides, as well as two small vertial tail stablizers.
The Y-8 AWACS protoype was promoted to Pakistani AF in 2006. After some negotiations a much improved design was developed based on PAF’s specifications. The variant is now dubbed ZDK-03 (ZDK means CETC) and is based on the new Y-8 Category III Platform featuring 6-blade propellers. It was reported in early 2009 that a total of 4 has been ordered by PAF in a $278m deal.
The first ZDK-03 rolled out in November 2010 at SAC, with the delivery to be scheduled by the end of 2010. ZDK-03 is expected to serve as an airborne command & control center for the JF-17 fighter fleet currently in service with PAF.