China has conducted the maiden flight of the Xian Y-20 strategic transport from the Yanlian airbase.
The development of a strategic airlifter is likely to enhance the People’s Liberation Army’s reach and could well also prove a powerful diplomatic tool.
The official codename of the aircraft is Kunpeng, named after a legendary bird in Chinese mythology that can fly thousands of kilometres, according to China Daily. The aircraft is believed to have been developed by Xi’an Aircraft Industry, a subsidiary of Aviation Industry Corporation of China, the country’s major military aircraft manufacturer.
|Y-20 China Military Transport Airplane|
Footage on Chinese state television shows the four-engined aircraft, bearing number 20001, taking off, landing, and taxiing. It does not appear to have retracted its landing gear during the flight, a common practice on maiden flights.
The Y-20 is expected to have a crew of three and a maximum payload of 66 metric tons and a maximum takeoff weight of more than 200 tons. The high payload means the aircraft should be capable of flying the heaviest of the PLA’s main battle tanks, the 58-ton Type-99A2.
The aircraft is 47m long and has a wingspan of 50m, the report said.