China's Y-20 large transport plane to spawn several variants: chief designer

Global Times
Chen Zhuo
2019-03-12 21:12:13

Paratroopers assigned to the airborne troops under the PLA Air Force parachute from a Y-20 transport aircraft during a parachute training exercise in central China's Henan Province on May 8, 2018. Photo:

The chief designer of China's domestically developed large transport plane, the Y-20, confirmed the aircraft could be spawned into several types of variants, with military experts expecting to see the original's doppelganger in 2019.

"The Y-20 can serve as a general platform from which a variety of variants can be derived," Tang Changhong, a Chinese political advisor and chief designer of the Y-20, said at a Thursday press conference featuring Chinese legislators and political advisors in the aviation field, China Aviation News reported Friday.

It is now "playing its role as a [variant-spawning] platform as planned," Tang said, without elaborating on the form or function a Y-20 variant might take.

Tang's remarks came amid reports and predictions made by military experts since 2018 saying that China is developing Y-20 variants, including an aerial tanker and a early warning aircraft.

Feng Wei, a Chinese legislator and Y-20 pilot, said "it will be refreshing to see the Y-20 this year and people won't be disappointed," news portal reported on March 5.

An anonymous military expert told the Global Times on Tuesday this could mean that one or more Y-20 variants could make their debut this year.

With a takeoff weight of 200 tons, the Y-20 can carry more fuel or equipment than any other domestically made aircraft, and can stay aloft for extended periods, making it a great basic platform for tanker and early warning aircraft, the expert said, noting that other possible variants may include a mobile hospital and an electronic warfare aircraft.

The Y-20 might also replace its current Russian engines with domestically made WS-20 engines in 2019, the expert predicted.

The military aircraft began service in the People's Liberation Army Air Force in 2016, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

"The Y-20 has now entered the formal mass production stage, and intensive regular training with the military is going according to plan," Tang said.


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