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

From The Archives

Aviation Week is approaching its 100th anniversary in 2016. In a series of blogs, our editors highlight editorial content from the magazine's long and rich history.

 

Jan 31, 2016
blog

Tupolev 104: Harsh Proof Of Rapid Soviet Progress (1956) 18

Since little detail was available of the Russian design and built Tupolev 104, a profile was compiled for Aviation Week, based entirely on observations from photographs, experts such as engineers knowledgeable in typical Russian aircraft design and of its landing at London Airport....More
Blog Archive
Penton Corporate

Sponsored Introduction Continue on to (or wait seconds) ×