China’s Strategic Airlift Capability for Its Global Interests

China’s Xian Y-20 transport plane is similar to the US C-17. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Model of China’s AG600 large amphibious aircraft

In its article titled “China Expands Its Strategic Airlift Capability, Prepares to Expand Its Sphere of Influence” on March 5, South Front says, “China is developing the military means to defend its position as a world power and is sending a clear message to its peers that it will no longer subordinate its own national interests to those of others, regardless of their global power status. A viable aircraft carrier force and a large strategic air lift capability send a clear message to the United States and Japan, that China is determined and quite capable of securing and defending its national interests on a global scale.”

The article described Y-20 transport and AG600 amphibious aircrafts China has recently developed for its strategic airlift capability.

Y-20 began operation in 2016 and is now world largest transport in production. Its range is 4,500 km with a maximum payload of 73 short tons, 4,500 km with a load of 40 short tons and more than 10,000 km empty. A runway 700 meters long is enough for it to take off and land.

It can transport China’s most modern Type 99A or 96 MBTs and any IFVs and APCs. According to its producer the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), China needs 1,000 Y-20s.

AG600 is the largest amphibious aircraft in the world similar in size to Boeing 730. It is said to be used for search and rescue, firefighting and humanitarian relief, but can also be used as patrol/reconnaissance aircraft and the platform of anti-submarine aircraft.

It can carry 50 passengers with a maximum range of 4,500 km similar to Y-20. It has landing gear for landing on land.

China’s ability in designing and building AG600 in 2 years proves the maturity of its aviation industry. That is certainly in addition to its ability to design and build J-20 stealth fighter jet for air supremacy.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on South Front’s article, full text of which can be viewed at