Aerial Warfare

China’s AG600 Amphibious Aircraft Completes Critical Load Calibration Tests

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China’s AG600 Amphibious Aircraft Completes Critical Load Calibration Tests

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China's AG600 Amphibious Aircraft Completes Critical Load Calibration Tests
China's AG600 Amphibious Aircraft Completes Critical Load Calibration Tests

China has achieved a significant milestone with its AG600 amphibious aircraft, completing the full-aircraft load calibration ground test. This rigorous test process included both the airframe load calibration ground test and the active surface load calibration ground online verification test. Over 28 days, the AG600 underwent 259 load conditions, laying the groundwork for the forthcoming flight load compliance tests. The AG600 Kunlong (Kun Dragon), developed by AVIC and assembled by CAIGA, is among the world’s largest amphibious aircraft. Powered by four WJ-6 turboprop engines, it boasts a maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) of 53.5 tonnes (118,000 pounds). Following five years of development, the assembly of this massive aircraft began in August 2014.

Designed for versatility, the AG600 features a single-body flying boat fuselage, cantilevered high wings, four WJ-6 turboprops, and tricycle retractable landing gear. It can operate from water bodies measuring at least 1,500 meters by 200 meters (4,920 by 660 feet) and 2.5 meters (8.2 feet) deep. The aircraft is also capable of conducting operations in Sea State 3 conditions, handling waves up to 2 meters (6.6 feet). The AG600 is primarily developed for aerial firefighting, capable of collecting 12 tonnes (26,000 pounds) of water in just 20 seconds and transporting up to 370 tonnes (820,000 pounds) of water on a single tank of fuel across 31 rotations. It is also designed for search and rescue missions, capable of retrieving up to 50 people at sea.

AVIC AG600 amphibious aircraft completed its first nighttime flight test in #Pucheng, northwest China’s Shaanxi province.
AVIC AG600 amphibious aircraft completed its first nighttime flight test in Pucheng, northwest China’s Shaanxi province. (Photo by AVIC)

Measuring 39.6 meters (129.9 feet) in length with a wingspan of 38.8 meters (127.3 feet), the AG600 has an MTOW of 53.5 tonnes (118,000 pounds) from paved runways or 48.8 tonnes (108,000 pounds) from choppy seas. AVIC claims it as the largest amphibious aircraft, outclassing the Beriev Be-200 and ShinMaywa US-2 in MTOW but lighter than the prototype-only Beriev A-40. The AG600’s operational range includes remote atolls in the South China Sea’s Spratly Islands, a region marked by territorial disputes. It can reach the southernmost edge of China’s territorial claims in four hours from Sanya. Originally known as the TA-600 and later the Dragon 600, the AG600 has seen steady progress since CAIGA started building it in August 2014. Despite initial delays, the prototype was rolled out in July 2016 and made its first flight in December 2017.

By the end of 2016, AVIC had secured 17 orders from the Chinese government, including the China Coast Guard. Potential export markets include island nations like New Zealand and Malaysia. The AG600 achieved several milestones: low-speed taxiing on the Zhanghe Reservoir in August 2018, first water take-off and landing in October 2018, and a test flight from the ocean in July 2020. In September 2022, the AG600M, a firefighting variant, successfully completed water scooping and dropping tests.The AG600 project is one of China’s three major aircraft projects, alongside the Xi’an Y-20 military transport and the Comac C919 airliner. Future variants may include models for maritime surveillance, resource detection, and passenger and cargo transport, highlighting the AG600’s pivotal role in China’s aviation ambitions.

China's AG600 Amphibious Aircraft Completes Critical Load Calibration Tests
AVIC AG600 large amphibious aircraft has completed the full-aircraft load #calibration ground test. (Photo by AVIC)

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