By Xie Ruiqiang and Ren Huanyu
BEIJING, Aug 26 -- The Y-20 strategic transport aircraft attached to the PLA Air Force completed the first heavy equipment airdrop in plateau areas in a recent real combat training exercise. This means that Chinese airborne troops have possessed strong maneuverability in the plateau areas and greatly improved their capabilities in defense and firepower, which would enable them to conduct large-scale assaults with heavy equipment.
During this live-fire training, the Y-20 continuously airdropped multiple pieces of heavy equipment. As the equipment got landed, hundreds of paratroopers jumped from the aircraft, and achieved coordinated operation of personnel and equipment after landing accurately.
The equipment for this airdrop is a couple of 107mm multi-barrel rocket launchers (MBRLs). The device, characterized by lightweight and strong firepower, has a maximum range of about 8 kilometers and is one of the major supporting weapons for rapid response forces such as airborne troops.
As a large transport aircraft with a maximum take-off weight of 200 tones, the Y-20 can airdrop both multi-barrel rocket launchers and Type-03 crawler-type paratrooper vehicles, together with wheeled armored vehicles.
The airdrop of weapons and equipment serves as the cornerstone for the airborne troops to maintain combat effectiveness, and the airdrop of heavy equipment is also an important criterion for testing airborne combat capabilities. The accurate airdrop of heavy equipment on the plateau is quite difficult, and its difficulty increases with the growth of altitude on the plateau due to the ever-growing impact of airflow.
PLA Air Force expert Fu Qianshao said, "To accurately deliver materials and equipment to a destination from an altitude of hundreds of meters or even higher, the aircraft and the personnel involved must be fully equipped and highly skilled. Airdrop is a highly sophisticated technical system of an intensive quantity of technologies, including loading and unloading systems onboard, parachute systems, buffer systems, etc., as well as the airdrop equipment itself."