China has begun operating at least five domestically-developed heavy transport aircraft, the Y-20 in West China recently, Global Times reports citing experts from news portal guancha.cn on Wednesday.
This was the first time so many Y-20 transporters had been seen in public after it officially entered service in the air force in 2016. Google screen grabs suggests the transporters were seen at an airport in Qionglai city, Sichuan Province on December 9.
The military in the Western Theater Command is currently equipped with Y-8 and Y-7 aircraft. The Y-20 will support transport missions in the Western Theater Command and will not completely replace the Y-8 and Y-7, Xu Yongling, a retired PLA chief test pilot and an expert at the Chinese Society of Aeronautics and Astronautics, told the Global Times. "China has no more than 100 transport aircraft. This is still far short of transport demand. The Y-20, together with the Y-8 and Y-7, will complement each other and strengthen PLA's overall transport capability," Xu said.
Developed by Xi'an Aircraft Industry, a subsidiary of China's leading military aircraft maker, the Aviation Industry Corporation of China, the Y-20 has a maximum takeoff weight of 200 tons and is ideal for transporting cargo and personnel over long distances in diverse weather conditions.