The X'ian Aircraft Corporation MA60 maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) is now in production, an official from the China National Aero-Technology Import and Export Co (CATIC) told IHS Jane's at the recent IDEX exhibition in Abu Dhabi: a development that raises the prospect of China being able to further increase its aerial military-diplomatic pressure on Japan over disputed territories in the East China Sea.
CATIC officials said that the MA60 MPA is scheduled for Chinese coastguard organisations such as the China Maritime Surveillance (CMS) agency, which has been at the forefront of Beijing's response to perceived infringements on its territorial sovereignty. A twin-turboprop powered X'ian Y-12 belonging to the CMS flew over the disputed Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands in December 2012, one of a number of incidents that led to fighter aircraft from both countries being scrambled to the area.
Once operational, the MA60, which like the Y-12 is unarmed, will provide the CMS with a greater range. With a 10-hour endurance, it is double that of the Y-12.
First seen in model form at the November 2011 Dubai Airshow, the MA60 MPA is derived from X'ian's MA60 civil airliner.