Xi’an Aircraft Industrial Corporation increases the production volumes of new Y-20 Kunpeng heavy military transport aircraft, China’s version of the C-17 Globemaster. Imagery captured by commercial satellite on 12 June shows that production of the new Y-20 Kunpeng transport aircraft is continuing at Xian Aircraft Corporation facility on a high level. In total, were spotted nine Y-20 aircraft, of which seven were newly built. Also 6 new aircraft already painted and several still without their engines. The official codename of the aircraft is Kunpeng , after the mythical bird that can fly for thousands of miles described in the ancient Chinese Taoist classic Zhuangzi. However, within the Chinese aviation industry itself, the aircraft is more commonly known by its nickname Chubby Girl, because its wide fuselage in comparison to other Chinese aircraft previously developed in China.
China’s first indigenously-developed heavy military transport aircraft, Y-20, was built by Xi’an Aircraft Industry (Group), a part of Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), for the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF). It is also the biggest domestic strategic airlifter ever built in China. The aircraft can be deployed in the transportation of personnel and heavy equipment during military assault, and humanitarian assistance and peacekeeping missions. It can also be configured for airborne early warning and control (AEW&C), anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and aerial refuelling missions.
The aircraft features deep and wide fuselage for cargo section and T-tail empennage configuration with high-mounted horizontal surfaces on the vertical stabiliser. The centre fuselage is hinged with moderately sweptback, high-mounted monoplane wings integrating triple-slotted trailing-edge flaps. A pair of engine nacelle is fitted under each wing. The Y-20 made its maiden flight in January 2013, and debuted at the 10th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition in November 2014. The aircraft features deep and wide fuselage for cargo section and T-tail empennage configuration with high-mounted horizontal surfaces on the vertical stabiliser.
The Y-20 has a payload capacity of around 60-66 t. It can carry most large combat and support vehicles, including the Type 99 series main battle tanks. In 2010 some changes were actually made to the design of the aircraft in order to carry these tanks. Alternatively to cargo and vehicles the Y-20 can accommodate around 300 troops, 200 litters or around 110 paratroopers. Previously only Russia, Ukraine and US were capable of developing and manufacturing heavy military cargo aircraft with such payload capacity. In terms of payload the Y-20 fits between a larger Boeing C-17 Globemaster III (77 t) and similar in size Russian Ilyushin Il-76 (50 t).