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Chinese Transport Aircraft - Yunshuji - Y

C-47 / Li-2
Y-5 Colt
Y-6 Coot [unbuilt]
Y-7 Curl
Y-8 Cub
Y-10 707ish
Y-11 Chan
Y-12 Cub
Y-13 Candid
Y-14 Curl
Y-16 Boeing 737
Y-17 [not used?]
Y-18 [not used?]
Y-19 ?
Y-YY An-178
Y-ZZ An-225

Airlift is a capability vital to military strategies worldwide. This makes it a continuing priority for military forces and governments. Conflicts in numerous countries, the global war on terrorism, as well as recent national and international emergencies, have prompted nations to renew and expand their airlift capabilities.

Transports are airplanes used for transportation of passengers and cargo. Usually they are divided into two categories: military transports and civil transports. The military transports are used for carrying troops, weapons and other military equipment; the airplanes used for transportation of passengers are called airliners or passenger airplanes and the ones used for transportation of cargo are called air freighters or cargo airplanes. The small transports usually are general purpose airplanes and they can be used for a number of special operations after retrofitting.

The transports have extensive applications in national defence and national economy. Their development have dramatically changed transportation structure and provided people with a fast, convenient, economic, safe and comfortable transportation means. In a modern war the military transports are important tools to improve troop's mobility and adaptability. Therefore the development of transports are greatly emphasized by all countries in the world.

The development of transports in China began in the mid-1950s and a small general purpose airplane was first trial-produced and then put into mass production. The development of a short / medium range airliner and a medium cargo transport began in the 1960s. The development and prototype production of a large airliner began in the 1970s. The 1980s was a prosperous period in which large, medium and small transports have been parallelly developed and several new types of airplanes have competitively come out. It appeared, that the development of transports was in ascendant.

By the end of the Cold War there were six transport manufacturers and two professional design institutes in China. The manufacturers are located in Harbin, Nanchang, Xi'an, Shaanxi, Shanghai and Shijiazhuang and the design institutes in Xi'an and Shanghai. The infrastructure is being gradually perfected. The Chinese aviation industry had the ability to independently develop medium / small transports and to cooperate with foreign manufacturers on development of large airliners.

The Chinese military threat is largely confined to countries contiguous to her borders. China's power projection capabilties beyond the mainland are dependent on invasion through either amphibious assault or vertical envelopment, or a combination of both. China is estimated to have about 50 line divisions [down from over 100 line divisions in the 1990s], consisting of 12,000 men each, 1 or 2 airborne divisions and necessary supporting weapons. The PLA also has three Airborne divisions and two Marine brigades. However, the army's ability to project force much beyond China's land borders remains limited due to a shortage of amphibious ships, heavy cargo carrying aircraft, long-range transports, and other logistical shortcomings.

The military exercises "Peace Mission 2007" involved all six Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) countries (Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan), 4000 troops, nearly 100 aircraft, and an unspecified number of logistical support units. The exercise involved 2,000 Russian and 1,700 Chinese soldiers, plus an unspecified number of Russian logistics-support units. The Russian Air Force contributed six Ilyushin Il-76 Candid transport planes, nine Sukhoi Su-25 Frogfoot ground-attack jets, 14 Mil Mi-24 Hind helicopter gunships and 18 Mi-8 Hip helicopters. China provided six Il-76 aircraft, eight JH-7-A fighter-bombers, 16 JG-9-W and 16 Mi-17 Hip helicopters.

The PLAFF had over a dozen IL-76 MD aircraft in service of 1990 vintage [various sources cite anywhere from 10 to 18, with 14 widely cited], and had ordered 34 IL-76s and four IL-78 tankers in 2005 from Russia. According to the September 2005 contract between Rosoboronexport and China's Defense Ministry, worth $1.5 billion, Russia was supposed to deliver 34 Il-76 Candid medium-range military transport aircraft and four Il-78 Midas aerial refueling tankers. The first deliveries under the contract were due to begin in 2007, but in 2006, Uzbekistan's Tashkent Chkalov Aircraft Association, the manufacturer of the aircraft, refused to sign a production contract with Rosoboronexport at the contract price. As a result, the agreement was delayed, and Beijing suspended negotiations on this and several other military contracts with Russia. The Chkalov Aircraft Production Plant in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, was unable to manufacture several dozen Ilyushin Il-76MD Candid strategic transport planes for the Chinese armed forces. As of mid-2008 Moscow was unable to relocate production to its Ulyanovsk Aircraft Plant in the Volga region, which was not ready to build so many planes at such short notice either. At that point, China seems to have lost interest, as nothing more seems to have been heard of this deal.

China is building a C-130 look-alike called the Y-9, a deep modernization of the C-130-like Shaanxi Y-8s, a copy of the Antonov An-12. On 08 October 2010 US President Barack Obama wrote to the US Congressional leadership that "Pursuant to the authority vested in me by section 902(b)(2) of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 1990 and 1991 (Public Law 101-246)(the "Act"), and as President of the United States, I hereby report to the Congress that it is in the national interest of the United States to terminate the suspensions under section 902(a)(3) of the Act with respect to the issuance of temporary munitions export licenses for exports to the People's Republic of China insofar as such restrictions pertain to the C-130 cargo aircraft to be used in oil spill response operations at sea. License requirements remain in place for these exports and require review and approval on a case-by-case basis by the United States Government." Washington had exported to China Black Hawk helicopters and other advanced armaments in the 1980s, but has also led Western countries in its restriction of high-tech weapons sales to Beijing since 1989. C-130s were used to spray oil dispersal in the Gulf of Mexico after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in April 2010, and China had been dealing with a much smaller oil spill in the Yellow Sea since July 2010.

As of 2011 the PLA had the capacity to air transport approximately a division plus (15,000 troops) in a single evolution, or to air drop a regiment worth (3,000 troops) in a single airlift. This capability was on display during exercises in 2009. Soon after the Stride 2009 (Kuayue-2009) ground mobility exercise was completed, "the PLA Air Force's 15th Airborne Corps conducted a similar 20-day, large-scale, multi-modal transportation, trans-regional exercise called Airborne Movement 2009 (Kongjiang Jidong), beginning mid-October 2009. The Airborne Movement 2009 paralleled the tasks that army divisions performed during Stride 2009. More than 13,000 troops were airlifted and began marching through Hubei, Henan, Anhui, and Jiangsu provinces. Heavy equipment, including ZBD-03 Airborne Fighting Vehicles, which were seen in the October 1 parade, was transported by rail while other personnel moved by road convoys to the exercise area in central China. "

Although the PLA has improved its amphibious attack capabilities in recent years, until recently there were no signs that Beijing was serious about increasing its heavy lift capacity or conducting sustained ground operations. As of 2010 the PLAAF had some at least 14 and possibly as many as 18 IL-76s, and over 40 Y-8 long-range transports. Reportedly a total of over 100 Y-8's have been built and are available to the military, with many operating under civilian registration. This would likely create a capacity shortfall in the event that the PLAAF is called upon to bear the brunt of a large-scale evacuation or force projection operation. Chinese naval and air assets were used in support of the evacuation of Chinese citizens from Libya in February and March 2011. The PLAAF may press for longer-range more transport aircraft in the wake of the Libya evacuation, where the 4 IL-76 Candid transports dispatched to Libya performed well. In 1991, China had been forced to rely on the state-owned shipping company COSCO to evacuate citizens following the implosion of Somalia.

The PLAAF plays a leading role in China's anti-access and area-denial operations, and is of great significance for active defence. The PLAAF on a path towards being upgraded for operating well beyond China's borders. Development of the Y-XX and C-919 transport aircraft for strategic airlift are indicators in this direction. The maiden flight of China's first large transporter aircraft may come as soon as 2012, The large passenger aircraft C919, developed by the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China, is scheduled to make its median flight in 2014. The large transporters will be capable of holding oversized payloads and taking off from temporary runways, greatly enhancing the air force's power project capability. It would also prove to be an invaluable asset for civil applications, such as disaster relief.

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One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger - by Matthew Yglesias

Page last modified: 07-11-2019 19:02:15 ZULU