During a 1-7 June technology innovation exhibition in Beijing, an official from the state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) told the People’s Dailynewspaper that China required “more than 1,000” Xian Aircraft Corporation (XAC) Y-20 heavy strategic transport aircraft and that the country also plans to build transport aircraft comparable in size to that of the Antonov An-225 Mriya.
“More than 1,000 Y-20s will be needed,” Zhu Qian, head of AVIC’s Large Aircraft Development Office, told reporters, referring to the 200-tonne, 50- to 60-tonne cargo capacity, four turbofan-powered transport aircraft that first flew in January 2013.
While Zhu stated that this estimate “was based on the experience of the United States and Russia”, he did not provide any further details. In 2014 the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) National Defence University issued a report stating that China might require up to 400 Y-20 transport aircraft.
The People’s Daily also quoted a technical evaluation by China’s Aerospace Knowledge magazine as saying that the Y-20 can fly 5,200 km with a payload of 51 tonnes when fully fuelled. “This means it can reach everywhere in Europe and Asia, the US state of Alaska, Australia, and North Africa,” the paper said, adding that the aircraft has a maximum payload of 66 tonnes and a maximum take-off weight of more than 200 tonnes, according to military sources. The high payload means it can carry the PLA’s heaviest tank, the 58-tonne Type 99A2 main battle tank.
Zhu told the newspaper that China also plans to build “300-tonne, 400-tonne, and even 600-tonne aircraft”. In this context a 600-tonne aircraft would approach the size of the Antonov An-225 Mriya and the Airbus A380.