The Chinese military’s first homegrown long-range transport plane has flown for the first time, extending Beijing’s impressive record of new warplane development.
But the Xian Y-20 (“Y” for Yun, meaning “transport”), roughly in the same class as the U.S. C-17 or the Russian Il-76, is probably still a long way from being fully operational — to say nothing of militarily effective. A lack of custom engines limits the new plane’s potential.
State-owned China Central Television depicted the four-engine jet transport taking off from what was probably the military airfield in Yanliang, central China, home of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force testing establishment. The Y-20, still wearing only its yellow primer paint, flew what appeared to be a short test flight and landed in front of a crowd waving Chinese flags. It seems the transport’s landing gear stayed down for the entire sortie — a standard precaution in early tests of new planes.
The successful maiden flight of Yun-20 is significant in promoting China’s economic and national defense buildup as well as bettering its emergency handling such as disaster relief and humanitarian aid,” the government-run Xinhua news service announced Saturday.