Details of Chinese Y-20 emerge
Following the successful maiden flight of the Y-20, China’s first domestically developed heavy air transport, Chinese media revealed further details of the project on 26 January.
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.
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.
Local sources said the aircraft began development in the early 1990s and in 2006 it was listed in a national mid- and long-term technological development plan. Photos of the Y-20 began to circulate on Chinese military websites on 24 December last year, leading to speculation that the aircraft would soon conduct its first test flight.
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