Y-20 Transport Emerges

RSS

It was hardly on the level of the J-20's appearance two years ago, but the advent of the Xian J-20 transport over the Christmas holidays was nonetheless important. If nothing else, it's the third all-new Chinese military aircraft to emerge in two years, a pace of innovation unknown since the Cold War. It is also by far the largest indigenously developed Chinese aircraft.

A lot of people are pointing out that the Y-20 looks a lot like most other military jet cargo aircraft, as indeed it does, because few people so far have successfully diverted from the formula that Lockheed-Georgia used with the C-141.

The aircraft is roughly the size of the Il-76 and uses the same engines for now (Saturn D-30KPs, also imported for the H-6K bomber). It is widely predicted that the production version will have a Chinese-produced high-bypass-ratio engine. Other significant details are yet to be revealed, including the design of the landing gear and the high-lift system, which determine the aircraft's ability to use short and soft runways.

Some see the Y-20 as the start of a family of special-purpose variants, including an all-domestic airborne early warning and control aircraft, but a large military transport - relatively heavy and draggy - is not really an optimized platform for AEW. The Soviets used the Il-76 because it was the best they had. 

So what is the strategic mission for the Y-20? The US developed large airlifters primarily for the reinforcement of Europe, secondly for long-range strategic interventions. Russia developed them (along with a family of air-droppable vehicles)  because of a strong belief in the power of airborne combined-armed forces. Some nations, more recently, have acquired them for a mix of missions, ranging from armed intervention to operations other than war - non-combatant evacuations and humanitarian/disaster relief. Exactly what mission mix the PLA has in mind is yet to be revealed. 

Please or Register to post comments.

What's Ares?

Aviation Week's defense blog

A Century of Aviation Week

Aviation Week & Space Technology is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. In a series of blogs, our editors highlight editorial content from the magazine's long and rich history.

 

Aug 26, 2016
blog

When Aviation Week Was Accused of Treason -- The Back Story Revealed 3

A 1957 revelation that the U.S. was tracking Soviet missile launches from a secret radar in Turkey has its roots in sleuthing of students from Kettering Grammar School in the UK....More
Aug 23, 2016
blog

When Aviation Week Was Accused Of Treason 22

Aviation Week editors routinely get blowback when they write about sensitive topics, and the best example of that may be an October 1957 story that revealed the U.S. had been tracking Russian missile launches from advanced long-range radar units in Turkey....More
Blog Archive
Penton Corporate

Sponsored Introduction Continue on to (or wait seconds) ×