Sources have revealed that new Chinese strategic transport aircraft have entered military service.
Two Y-20 aircraft, China’s homegrown strategic transport aircraft, have now officially joined the People’s Liberation Army Air Force.
The Xian Y-20 is being developed by Xi’an Aircraft Industrial Corporation and was officially launched in 2006. The official codename of the aircraft is Kunpeng after the mythical bird of ancient China that can fly for thousands of kilometres.
However, within the Chinese aviation industry itself, the aircraft is more commonly known by its nickname Chubby Girl because of its wide fuselage in comparison to other Chinese aircraft.
The first two Y-20 planes were delivered to the Air Force, after five years of design and manufacture as well as another four years of test flights.
According to the AVIC, the time between the start of the design and the Y-20’s flight was around half that of similar aircraft in other countries.
“China has joined the few nations capable of indigenously developing large transport aircraft.”
Tang Changhong, chief designer for the Y-20 said:
“To enhance national strength, China must build up its ability of indigenously designing and producing large aircraft and strengthen its air transport.”
Air Force spokesperson Shen Jinke said:
“The Y-20 entering into service marks a crucial step for the Air Force improving its strategic power projection capability.
The Air Force needs more and better transport to better fulfil its military responsibilities, including safeguarding national security as well as domestic and international rescue and relief work.”
In 2014 the PLA National Defence University’s Center for Economic Research recommended the purchase of up to 400 Y-20s, comparing the PLAAF’s needs with the existing airlifter fleets of the United States and Russia.
In June 2016 Jane’s reported that up to 1,000 Y-20s are being requested by the Chinese military.