After the Chinese declaration of a Air Defense Identification Zone over the East China Sea on the 23rd of November (see my take over at War Is Boring), China sent up the first patrol to "enforce" its ADIZ that very same day. It was duly intercepted by fighters from Japan's Air Self Defense Force, which brought back a photo of another of China's rarely-seen Y-8 Special Missions types, this time being a Chinese Air Force Shaanxi Y-8GX-1 Electronic Warfare platform.
The Y-8GX-series (GX - GaoXin, 高新 or literally translated as "High New" which is the code name for China's Special Missions Y-8 project) of Special Missions aircraft is not really well known in the public sphere. The various sub-types - eight have been identified so far - fulfill a range of missions such as Electronic Warfare and intelligence gathering (ELINT and SIGINT) along with more orthodox roles like Maritime Patrol and Anti-Submarine Warfare.
The Y-8GX-1 is the first Gao Xin variant, and first flight took place on 26th January 2000. At least four, possibly up to six, airframes were converted to this variant. The Y-8GX-1 featured the removal of the Y-8 transport's rear cargo ramp and is liberally covered in various antennae along the top and bottom fuselage. A large semi-spherical fairing (SATCOM antenna?) sits in front of the vertical tail while a ventral canoe fairing is located on the forward fuselage.
Not much else is known publicly about on-board equipment, but it is reportedly equipped with the China Electronics Technology Group Corporation (CETC) JN1119 Airborne Communication Reconnaissance System capable of intercepting, direction finding, and jamming wireless communication signals between 100-500MHz and may also carry the 300 & 308 systems for similar purposes.
The first sighting of this type occured in July 2005 while serving with the former 30th Independent (Electronic-Warfare) Regiment, at Nanjing-Dajiaochang in Jiangsu Province. Sometime between late 2011 and 2012 at least two aircraft, including the aircraft photographed here, were transferred to an as-yet unknown Regiment of the newly-formed 20th Division and rehomed to Luzhou in Sichuan Province, part of China's Chengdu Military Region.