China’s Y-20 large transport aircraft expected to generate more variants

China’s Y-20 large transport aircraft is expected to generate more variants and get more powerful engines after a series of successful development and mission deployments since its maiden flight one decade ago, experts said on Friday.

The domestically developed military cargo plane celebrated the 10th anniversary of its maiden flight on Thursday.

The development of a large plane like the Y-20 required China’s complete independence in terms of aviation technologies as well as breakthroughs in fields including new materials, modern manufacturing, advanced engines, electronics information and automatic control and computer technologies, state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), the maker of the Y-20, said in a press release it sent to the Global Times on Thursday.

Over the past 10 years, the Y-20 was tasked with missions including participation in military exercises, military parades, air shows, the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and transporting international humanitarian aid, as the aircraft flew not only across China and in Asia, but also around the world, including to other continents like Europe, Africa and Oceania.

This demonstrates that the Y-20 has become a reliable aircraft and has been mass-produced, observers said.

Based on the success of the Y-20 project, China can now not only deliver the large transport aircraft in significant numbers, but also improve designs and upgrade technologies based on needs to develop the plane into a series of aircraft, AVIC said.

The Y-20 large transport aircraft has been developed into the YU-20 aerial tanker, and the Y-20 will have more variants, China Central Television reported on Thursday.

In the future, the Y-20 could be developed into a strategic early warning aircraft, a command and control aircraft, a long-range electronic warfare aircraft, or even a drone carrier, Fu Qianshao, a Chinese military aviation expert, told the Global Times on Friday.

The Y-20 could also be increased in length, and this will give it a larger cargo space, Fu said.

Thanks to the development of the new and more powerful engine which the Y-20 is expected to be equipped soon, the aircraft will receive a boost in terms of payload capacity and range, the expert said.


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