Monster Machines: Even The Cargo Jets Are Knockoffs In China

In 2008, an 8.0-magnitude earthquake decimated China's Sichuan province, killing nearly 70,000. The disaster which was compounded by the country's lack of large cargo aircraft, which are essential vehicles for humanitarian missions, brought on by the military's unyielding focus on fighter jets.

In response to this logistical shortfall (and the disgrace of having to accept a pair of loaner C-17s, from the Americans of all people), China's military kicked a languishing strategic air freighter project into gear and have debuted the results: a C-17, minus the performance capabilities.

Developed beginning around 2006, the Yun-20 aircraft is built by the Xi'an Aircraft Industrial Corporation, one of the country's biggest aircraft manufacturers. Operating with a crew of three, the Y-20 is 47m long and 15m tall with a 45m wingspan. That puts it in the same size range as Antonov An-225, the Boeing C-17 Globemaster III, and the Ilyushin Il-76, on which the Y-20 is based.

With a maximum payload of 60 tonnes, the Y-20 can just accommodate the 53-tonne Type-99A2 tank, the heaviest such vehicle in the Chinese armoury. And with a payload of 50 tonnes or less, the Y-20 can fly from western China to Cairo on a single tank, according to official Chinese reports.

What's more, the Y-20 will be the country's first freighter plane capable of mid-air refuelling, a feature that effectively doubles the Y-20's reported 1000km operational radius. With a refuelling on each leg of the flight, the Y-20 could theoretically reach Papua New Guinea and with two refuellings per leg, they would be able to reach Australia — a Red Dawn down under indeed.

While the thought of an undead Patrick Swayze going war to against Chinese paratroopers sounds like an awesome way to to spend $US12, most military analysts are not confident in the performance metrics that the Chinese military has released; the phrase "technologically inferior" has even been bandied about. You see, the Y-20 i9s based on the Ilyushin Il-76, a Soviet-designed heavy transport plane developed in the 1970s but which has long lagged behind the freight planes of other nations. The new Y-20 does offer a host of updated systems including body panelling composed of composite materials and WS-20 engines. The problem is the WS-20 is based off an antiquated and inefficient Russian design. "(The engine's) oil consumption is very bad, it wastes a lot of fuel," Andrei Chang, editor-in-chief of the Canadian Kanwa Defense Review said.

The Chinese military expects the Y-20 to improve both the Chinese military's power projection and rapid deployment capabilities. Officials also hope the plane will help spur developments in related systems such as early warning and control, aerial refuelling, and anti-submarine aircraft. We'll have to wait five years for the production model to see if their predictions are correct. [Defense Tech - China Daily - Wikipedia - Global Security]


    Errr yeah... reach us with that many refuellings... easiest way to stop that pretty quick would be shoot down the tankers.
    I don't think we have to worry about a Chinese invasion any time soon, China has more than enough land of their own without having to expand, hell they'e got whole unpopulated cities sitting there waiting for occupants.

      Plus you don't invade with aircraft. You need ships to land tanks and troops. If China had enough landing ships, they would have taken Taiwan back by now.

        Not to mention the fact that Australia is virtually a gigantic fortress island with an uncross-able desert in the middle.

          dont forget the array of venomous and inhospitable wildlife.... heheh. But then again - theres only a few of us... here so...

            Would you invade a country defended by drop-bears?

              Our Domestic Chinese food is paltry as well...

    They wont invade us until we start charging them reasonable prices for all the resources they're currently buying off of us for next to nothing.

      As far as I know, the only country that invades other countries for their resources is America.

        The Chinese learn quickly.

    Original cargo jet was the Vickers Vernon, made in Britain. Another ripoff the Americans claim as their own. You're full of shit Andrew, as usual.

    Last edited 30/01/13 7:19 pm

      Agreed. I was just thinking 'oh great, more anti-Chinese bullshit from Gizmodo', like the last article on supposedly ripped-off Chinese fighters. If we applied this logic to everything, then Gizmodo is a ripoff of the first blog, which is a ripoff of the first website; this computer I'm on is a ripoff of the first computers; cars are a ripoff of carriages; in fact every single thing in existence is a ripoff of something else.

      Or maybe, Andrew, you're just an idiot. But I guess it's not your fault, you're just a ripoff of the first human.

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