Days before the international court at The Hague pronounces its verdict on the China-Philippines island dispute, China inducted its first indigenously manufacture heavy military transport aircraft into service.
The huge strategic aircraft joined the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in Chengdu.
The Xian Y-20 looks like Boeing C-17 Globemaster operated primarily by the air forces of US, UK and India.
The 47-metre-long Y-20 has a maximum takeoff weight of about 200 tonnes. In matters of speed and range, the Y-20 is almost at par with the Globemaster.
Both can travel at Mach 0.75 speeds upto a maximum distance of around 4,500 kilometers with full payload. The Globemaster can, however, travel upto 10,000 kilometers with paratroopers. On the other hand the Y-20 can travel almost 8,000 kilometers when carrying 40 tons of freight.
China has built a total of eight Xian Y-20s in the last 10 years.
China has been rapidly modernising its air force. The Defense Ministry called the induction of the Y-20 “a crucial step” in air power projection.
As the South China Sea diplomatic wrangle heats up, the induction of the Xian Y-20 gives the Chinese PLA an edge over every country in Southeast Asia. And in June, the Chinese had announced that they’ll soon induct the indigenous fifth generation stealth fighter, Chengdu J-20, into service.