China inducts Xian Y-20 into service
July 07, 2016 • Leave a Comment
In a ceremony on Wednesday 7 July, the indigenous Xian Y-20 strategic transport aircraft was formally inducted into the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF)'s 4th Transport Division, 12th Air Regiment at Chengdu-Qionglai Air Base. This has followed the acceptance of two aircraft — serials 11051 and 11052 — by the PLAAF on 15 June.
Bearing resemblance to the Boeing C-17 and Antonov An-70, it is widely known that engineers who had involvement with the latter had served as design consultants on the Y-20. The maiden flight of the first prototype took place on January 26 2013, followed by a three-year test program comprising five test and development airframes, the last of which joined the test fleet earlier this year.
While China has predominately focused on its fighter development programs in its air power modernisation, its airlift capabilities has received far less attention, with efforts centered on modernising the Shaanxi Y-8, itself based upon the Antonov An-12.
The Y-20 is set to plug the PLAAF's airlift gaps, with some sources speculating that the air force has a requirement for about a hundred aircraft. These will supplement and replace its current fleet of strategic Ilyushin Il-76 and tactical Y-8 transport fleet. It is also expected that the Y-20 will provide the baseline platform for refuelling and AEW&C variants.
via Chinese Internet
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