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Y-20 / Y-XX - Program History

China decided to develop its own large military transport aircraft, the Yun-20. The development time of this aircraft is relatively fast, which is about half of that of similar foreign aircraft. The reason why such a large-scale project has such a short development period is mainly due to the following aspects.

  1. First, China had urgent requirements for large airborne platforms. At the beginning of the 21st century, the development of large-scale early-warning aircraft has become an urgent need in China, and large-scale early-warning aircraft requires large aircraft as a platform, so Yun-20 came into being.
  2. Second, China's highly modernized aviation industry capability has provided strong support for the development of the Yun-20.
  3. Third, AVIC Xi'an Aircraft Industry Group has conducted preliminary technical reserves. As early as 1993, Xifei began the preliminary demonstration of large transport aircraft, and later, it also proposed the goal of developing a 200-ton large aircraft. These efforts played a key role in the development of the Yun-20.
  4. The fourth is to fully draw on the advanced technology of similar foreign models, effectively make up for the lack of their own experience, and take a successful engineering design route.
  5. Fifth, the power system directly uses the engine stock provided by Russia, which reduces the development risk [24] .
The development of large aircraft was listed as one of China's 16 major development plans in the country's 11th Five-Year Program (2006-2010). The goal is to produce a large transport aircraft for civil and military purposes by 2015, with entry into civilian service by 2020. According to the president of AVIC-I, the first model of China's Large Civil Aircraft [LCA], a freighter, should be ready by 2018, followed by a 150-seat passenger aircraft. Within a week after Premier Wen Jiabao's 05 March 2006 report on government work to the Chinese National People's Congress, it was clear that the development of "jumbo aircraft" was one of 16 new programs for the 11th Five Year Plan from 2006 to 2010. An official from the AVIC-1 aviation consortium clarified that "jumbo aircraft" referred to a planned "150-seat" airliner, and a 100-ton cargo transport.

After the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, the development of military air transport was at a low point. The domestically produced main force model adopted by the Chinese Air Force for a long time was only the Y-5 light transport aircraft, with low operating costs and short take-off distance. Yun-5 transport aircraft was China's first self-made transport aircraft, developed by Nanchang Aircraft Manufacturing Company. With China's economic development and gradual strengthening of scientific and technological strength, China's aviation industry began to provide new models for aviation military transportation forces.

In the 1960s, the Chinese military had already realized the importance of military air transport, and proposed the principle of "big helicopters and big transport aircrafts." Guided by this thinking, China has successively developed the Yun-7 and Yun-8 military transport aircraft, and has equipped the troops in batches. The Yun-7 transport aircraft is a twin-engine turboprop short-range transport aircraft developed and produced by China Aviation Industry Xi'an Aircraft Industry Company. The Yun-8 medium-sized four-engine turboprop multipurpose transport aircraft was the main transportation model of the Chinese Air Force. However, these models were medium and light transport aircrafts. In order to meet the needs of long-distance air transport, China imported 20 Il-76 large transport aircrafts from Russia, forming a distinct aviation military transport capacity, and mainly used for troop and equipment transfer and Emergency delivery of relief supplies.

China's national defense policy and security situation determine that China will not stay away from homeland for large-scale wars. However, in a relatively peaceful environment, China military's aviation capacity must meet military logistical support and rapid response requirements for actively supporting national defense and economic construction, and defending the territorial airspace of the motherland. Therefore, the combat range of the Chinese Air Force and the projection range of the Chinese Armed Forces should be at least 4,000 kilometers in order to quickly transport the corresponding personnel and materials.

According to one demand analysis, China needs about a hundred large-scale military transport aircraft, and as of 2014 the main model of China's military air transport was the Y-8 medium-range transport aircraft and a small number of Il-76 large transport aircraft. Not only can it not meet the needs of modern warfare, it is not enough to deal with emergencies. The area of war in modern warfare is becoming wider and wider, and the pace of war is accelerating. Therefore, some other countries in the world are working to strengthen the rapid response and long-range delivery capabilities of their military forces, so that they can quickly transport their forces and weapons to areas where they are needed, control the situation, and reinforce and fight for time for follow-up troops; or suddenly send troops to The other side's vital and defensive weak areas gave it a sudden and fatal blow.

Compared with other transportation methods, the biggest advantage of air transportation is that it is fast. The cruising speed of modern jet transport aircraft is about 800 km/h, and turboprop transport aircraft reach 500 km/h, which is several times or even dozens of times faster than other transportation means. In addition, air transport is not affected by topographical and hydrological conditions. Air transport can cross many obstacles that are considered natural by other means of transport, and transport people and materials to areas that are urgently needed. Therefore, all major military powers attach great importance to air transport capabilities, especially the development of transport aircraft, in order to gain an advantage in future wars.

Large military transport aircraft generally refer to military transport aircraft with a maximum take-off weight of more than 100 tons. Divided by purpose, large military transport aircraft are divided into strategic and operational. The range of modern large transport aircraft has reached thousands or even tens of thousands of kilometers. After refueling in the air, global transportation can be implemented. The number of large military transport aircraft's equipment, technical level and carrying efficiency have become important measures of whether a country has a "strategic air force" capability.

For the Chinese Air Force, which previously relied on imported large-scale transport aircraft and haf a limited number of product options, the Yun-20 is not only a "aircraft" to verify the level of the aviation industry, but also a key model to meet the number of large-scale transport aircraft of the Chinese Air Force. For the Chinese military, in addition to meeting daily material transportation tasks, the first use of large and medium-sized transport aircraft is undoubtedly to transport airborne troops to perform large-scale airborne operations.

Compared with the Chinese Navy's long-standing lack of amphibious transportation capabilities, the Chinese Air Force's insufficient transportation capacity is more serious: the Air Force has only had more than 10 Il-76 large transport aircraft for a long time (until in recent years, it has only received two batches of second-hand refurbished aircraft, However, considering that several Il-76s have been converted into early warning aircraft and engine test platforms, the actual number of Il-76s used for transportation still did not exceed 30), and the number of Y-8 series medium-sized transport aircraft is also very limited.

After 2000, the degree of motorization and mechanization of the Chinese Airborne Forces increased rapidly. First, they were equipped with airborne fast assault vehicles in batches. Later, they began to batchly replace mechanized equipment such as airborne infantry fighting vehicles and airborne self-propelled mortars. They were equipped with large-caliber airborne self-propelled artillery - making the defect of insufficient transportation power more obvious. Considering that the environment of China's large-scale transport aircraft is also deteriorating, the new Il-76 is no longer available, and the Il-476 is not yet mature. It was time for China to develop its own large transport aircraft.

The so-called large transport aircraft generally refers to strategic transport aircraft with intercontinental transport capabilities. These aircraft are characterized by strong load carrying capacity and long range. Their take-off weight is more than 150 tons, the payload is more than 40 tons, and the range of normal loading is more than 5000. Kilometers, can implement airborne, airdrop and fast loading and unloading, can take off and land at large and medium-sized airports far from home, and can also be deployed at field airports when necessary.

Accordingly, China s aviation military transportation force needs the largest transport aircraft, which can carry most of the army s weapons and equipment, has a range of not less than 4000 kilometers, and has good short take-off and landing performance. Take off and land on a paved runway. China must have C-17-level and high-performance military transport aircraft, otherwise China will inevitably face tremendous military pressure in future wars and encounter greater difficulties. Large-scale military transport aircraft, as strategic equipment of the Chinese military, have an irreplaceable role in improving the current situation of Chinese military equipment, realizing national defense modernization, safeguarding national security, and accomplishing the great cause of reunification of the motherland. In order to make up for the lack of air transportation power, the Chinese Air Force once borrowed aircraft from civil aviation and even logistics companies to transport cargo.

Therefore, Yun-20 has great significance for improving the level of logistics. In order to adapt to the characteristics of sudden and fast tempo of modern wars, and to realize rapid deployment of armed forces and rapid delivery of equipment, it is necessary to rely on the strategic air transport capability of large transport aircraft.

In 2006, the large aircraft project was officially included in the national medium- and long-term science and technology development plan.

Construction History Preliminary preparation In 1993, AVIC Xifei began the preliminary demonstration of large-scale transport aircraft. A total of 3 billion yuan was invested in preparation. In 1997, Xifei proposed to the military a plan to develop a large military transport aircraft. In 2001, Xifei proposed a strategic plan for the construction of a new Xifei, with the goal of forming a 200-ton large-scale aircraft research and production capacity, greatly improving aviation manufacturing technology and processing capabilities, and realizing the development and production of 100-ton to 200-ton aircraft. Great leap forward.

After Israel was pressured by the United States to terminate cooperation with China in early warning aircraft in 2000 , the central government resolved to develop an early warning aircraft. At this time, an urgent problem appeared. Large early warning aircraft needed large aircraft as a platform, so the central government ordered Xifei to develop a The large transport aircraft that can be used as a large-scale early warning aircraft platform required the Il-76 as the model and was technically more advanced than the Il-76MD. Xifei's technical reserve played a key role at this time. Come up with the overall design plan, which is widely known as Yun-20. Due to China's vast airspace, even if the early-warning aircraft adopts high and low collocations, dozens of large-scale early-warning aircraft are required (some of them are on duty for combat readiness, and some are used as reserve aircraft). Due to some problems encountered in the subsequent design, so XAC will look into the traditional partners Ukrainian Antonov Design Bureau . After receiving technical support from Ukraine, Xifei solved the design problems of Universiade. It can be said that under the urgent requirements of the early warning aircraft platform, only Y-20 large transport aircraft was suitable.

During the 2004 National People's Congress meeting, Liu Daxiang , an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering , a well-known aviation power expert, and the deputy director of the Science and Technology Committee of China Aviation Industry Corporation, submitted an early proposal for Quick Development of Large Aircraft Development.

At the Zhuhai Air Show in November 2004, AVIC Group suddenly released a model of a transport aircraft that had never appeared before. In appearance, it does not belong to the Yun-7 or Yun-8 family, nor does it have any similarities with any kind of transport aircraft in China. The aircraft used a cantilevered single-wing, twin-turbofan engine layout, which is similar to the Il-76 large transport aircraft in general. It is officially called the WJ jet trainer, but from the design characteristics of the aircraft, the aircraft was an uncompromised large and medium transport aircraft. The design of the aircraft model was quite similar to the Yun-20, which proves that AVIC has started the development of large transport aircraft at the latest in 2004.

At the beginning of 2006, "Developing Large Aircraft" was written into the "National Medium and Long-term Science and Technology" as a national decision under the Development Plan Outline and the Eleventh Five-Year Plan Development Outline. In February 2007, the executive meeting of the State Council of China approved in principle the establishment of a major scientific and technological project for large aircraft development. In March 2007, China announced the launch of a large aircraft project in two cities of Xi'an and Shanghai. Among them, more than 50% of the design and manufacturing of "Da Ke" and all the design and development and manufacturing of "Da Yun" were completed in Shaanxi. On June 20, 2007, the large-scale transport aircraft project (ie, Yun-20) was formally established under the code 072 project.

Introduction of the article " Jane's Defense Weekly " on August 22, 2007 , Xi'an Aircraft Industry group was identified plans for manufacturing strategic transport aircraft. The British journal believed that the aircraft is likely to be built on the basis of the Il-76MD aircraft, but it will have a better carrying capacity and a more powerful engine, and its size is likely to be close to the C-17 strategic transport aircraft produced by Boeing. China Aerodynamics Research and Development Center was developing the turbofan engine with high bypass ratio. This engine will power large aircraft. In addition, the center was also researching carbon fiber materials, and it was expected that it will substantially reduce the aircraft's empty weight. The aircraft will be controlled by three crew members with a planned carrying capacity of 66 tons, a fuselage length of 49 meters, a wingspan of 49 meters, a wing area of 310 square meters, a height of 15 meters, and a maximum take-off weight of 220 tons. The Jane's article was quite close to the Yun-20 plan that was later exposed.

Information disclosed at the China Aviation Industry Development High-level Forum on May 8, 2008 indicates that in the next five years, Xifei will step up technological innovation and breakthrough and master the assembly and integration of large aircraft, the manufacture of large-scale composite components, and the assembly of large components. Key technologies to ensure the first flight of large transport aircraft in 2012. At this point, the development plan for the Yun-20 has been completely finalized.

On February 18, 2009, Lin Zuoming, General Manager of China Aviation Industry Corporation, announced the official establishment of AVIC Aircraft Co., Ltd. in Xi'an, which means that the core content of the large aircraft plan-the large transport aircraft project and the large passenger aircraft parts project responsible party has officially clear. Lin Zuoming also signed the Strategic Cooperation Agreement with Shaanxi Provincial Governor Yuan Chunqing that day. Hu Xiaofeng, general manager of AVIC Aircraft, said that 5 years later, it is expected that large-scale transport aircraft with Xifei as the main production body will be officially put into commercial use. This is the first time that the manufacturer of Yun-20 had announced the delivery time limit of Yun-20.

The 603 Institute, XAC and SAC developed this advanced 4-engine large transport. It is said that this design was begun by AVIC-I to rival the AVIC-II / Antonov ASTC proposal for a 4-turbofan derivative of the An-70. People's Daily Online reported on November 06, 2009 that "China's large aircraft have seen much development lately. A 200-ton military aircraft will make its debut at the end of this year; it will be China's largest military aircraft. The aircraft was independently developed and created by AVIC (China Aviation Industry Group) Xi'an Aircraft Industry (Group) Company Ltd., said Hu Xiaofeng, president of AVIC Aircraft Corporation. " Obviously, this did not happen, at least not in public.

China-Defense-Mashup reported 05 November 2009 "this military transport aircraft project was initiated before 3-4 years. Chinese Government has esteemed this project as "National Significant Project". The Military department believes that the R&D on heavy airlifter should be based on the mature and reliable technologies, but its performance can approach the international advanced transport aircraft with Chinese independent innovative technologies. It can be summarized that China's future Military Heavy airlifter Prototype will be designed on Russia's IL-76MD. But China's airlift aircraft will has an expanded size and payload capacity, improved electronic devices, and even some concepts absorbed from C-17. For the Engine, China will probably use D-30 engines and then replace them by WS-18 or advanced 4 high-Bypass ratio turbofan engines developed from FWS-10."

There were reports that a wind tunnel model and cockpit section had been built. A full-scale metal mock-up of the forward fuselage of the Y-20 was said to have been constructed by 2008. On 20 August 2009 SAC was said to have started work on the rear fuselage of the first prototype. Nov. 05, 2009, at the first anniversary of Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), its general manager Hu Xiao-feng announced that China Xi'an Aircraft Industry (Group) Company had been taking a sole role on the exploration and manufacturing of this airlift. As of 2010 the first flight was projected in 2012. It was reported in April 2010 that a full-scale mock-up was completed in early 2010. In 2010 the always fantastic China Military Aviation site posted the first images of the Y-20.

Jane's All the World's Aircraft [Publication date May 25, 2010] relates that "Design reportedly initiated in about 2005, involving input from No. 603 Institute and "some technology" from Il-76. Reported that rear fuselage for prototype was under construction at SAC (Shaanxi) by end of 2009; maiden flight targeted for 2012. Rumoured designation Y-20 not confirmed or explained (highest transport aircraft designation used hitherto was Y-16 for abortive project to licence-build Boeing 737)."

China was seeking to carry out the maiden flight of its first large transporter aircraft in 2012, according to a 12 May 2011 press release on the website of Xi'an Aircraft Industry (Group) Company (XAC). Gao Jianshe, vice general manger of Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), said in a speech that all cadres and employees of the AVIC Xi'an Aircraft Industry (Group) Company (XAC) should complete their scientific research and production and ensure that the large jet will make its maiden flight before the 18th CPC National Congress scheduled next yea. The XAC's press release was later removed from its official website. XAC has been studying large transporter aircraft since 1993 and was selected as the major contractor for the aircraft in 2007, mainly in charge of the integration and assembly of the aircraft. The company specializes in manufacturing bombers, fighter-bombers and regional passenger aircraft.

The Y-20 prototype aircraft achieved maximum take-off weight and maximum altitude, Tang Changhong, member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), and chief designer of the Y-20 heavy-duty transport aircraft, said 13 March 2013. The Y-20 heavy-duty transport aircraft is a new-generation aircraft independently developed by China, with a maximum take-off weight of about 220 tons and a maximum payload of 66 tons.

'Development of the domestically designed engine which will be soon be used to equip the Y-20 has also been proceeding very smoothly. A lot of progress has been made,' said Tang. Aircraft under initial research and development are referred to as prototypes. The first and the second Y-20 prototype aircraft made their maiden flights last year, on Jan. 26 and at the end of December respectively. During their test flights, they underwent a variety of flight checks. 'The success of the test flights has verified the 'excellent quality' of Y-20,' said Tang.

Richard D. Fisher, Jr., Senior Fellow, International Assessment and Strategy Center, in Testimony for the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission Hearing on China's Emergent Military Aerospace and Commercial Aviation Capabilities, May 20, 2010, noted that "It is not clear if the "200-ton" aircraft is the same as the AVIC-1 transport concept, but Chinese internet reporting has indicated this aircraft is designed to carry a 60-ton payload, which would place it in the same class as the Russian Ilyushin Il-76 and the U.S. Boeing C-17.... By the 2020s new strategic aircraft may ... allow the PLA to combine new capabilities in maritime power projection with long-range strategic air force projection... A large fleet of C-17-size transports plus the new airmobile medium weight armor forces the PLA is building today will give China options for global rapid military maneuver."

At 14:00 on January 26, 2013, China's first autonomously developed strategic transport aircraft took off smoothly. Yun-20 flew over the test flight site, and passed low-altitude in front of the observation platform at around 14.50. The test flight was accompanied by a J-15 and the test flight was recorded. It landed safely at 20 o'clock and the first flight was successful.

On March 2, 2013, China's independently developed large transport aircraft Yun-20 conducted two ground taxi tests at a test flight center in the west. Compared with the painting on the first flight on January 26, 2013, the Yun-20 which was tested on March 2, 2013 uses a new painting. Except for the radome, the original yellow-green body painting was completely re-painted, and replaced with gray-black. "This shows that the flight test of the Yun-20 has entered a new stage." Chief designer Tang Changhong said that the maximum take-off weight of the Yun-20 is 200 tons, with high extensibility, high reliability and safety.

At 15:00 on April 20, 2013, Yun-20 conducted a second test flight at a certain western area test base. The second successful test flight of the Yun-20 showed that its key technologies are more mature. In September 2013, the latest test flight photos of the first domestic large-scale military transport aircraft Yun-20 appeared again on the Internet. From the photo, it can be seen that the part of the Yun-20's head is painted with a new head number "781", and the numbers appear large red.

In December 2013, the second prototype of the Yun-20 successfully made its first flight at a test flight center in the west. From the first prototype to the second prototype, the Yun-20 took less than one. The years indicate that its key technologies are becoming more mature, and that the development work is very smooth. Only one prototype of the Yun-20 is performing flight test missions. In addition, there may be one ground strength test machine and one fatigue test machine.

On the eve of the Army Day in 2014, the third prototype of the Yun-20, painted in gray with number 783, landed steadily After a test flight. This meant that the aircraft has been put into scientific test flight, which would speed up the development of Yun-20. On March 21, 2013, the China Central Television (CCTV) program revealed the inside story of the development and production of domestic large transport aircraft Yun-20, and also exposed for the first time the cockpit avionics system of China Yun-20 transportation aircraft, and also revealed the In the phase of test flight, in particular, the Yun-20 has successfully adopted the world's first 3D printing technology to produce parts.

During an interview, Academician Tang Changhong, Chief Designer of AVIC First Aircraft Design and Research Institute, discussed the development history and application prospects of Yun-20. The official name of Yun-20 is "Xunpeng".

The Yun-20 adopts a cantilevered upper single wing, a leading edge swept back, and a wingless winglet. It has high reliability and security, and certain expansion capabilities. "The domestic engine to be equipped in the Yun-20 is progressing smoothly and great progress has been made." The prototype was an early-developed aircraft. The first and second Yun-20 prototypes that flew for the first time on January 26 and 2013 at the end of December, respectively, will be given different test flight verification tasks during the test flight.

Yun-20 has achieved maximum take-off weight and maximum flight altitude. The Yun-20 cockpit design uses motion capture technology to simulate actual operating conditions and fully utilize the ergonomic layout of the cockpit. The pilot described the Yun-20's flight feelings as: the plane is very stable, with excellent aerodynamic characteristics, take-off and landing characteristics, and carrying capacity.

The different divisions of the prototype test flight include the aircraft's structural strength, aerodynamics, flight performance, flight quality, system functions, performance, etc., and the aircraft's extreme boundary flight. "The test flight of the Yun-20 prototype is also subject to damaging mission tests, such as strength tests, flutter tests, stall speed flights, icing missions and other extreme flights, high-risk flight subjects. The number of large military transport aircraft, Technical level and carrying efficiency are important indicators of whether a country has a strategic air force capability.

The Yun-20 belongs to the strategic transport aircraft of the large military transport aircraft, and also has the function of a tactical transport aircraft. "The research and development requirements of Yun-20 are in line with the development of the country's comprehensive strength." Large aircraft is a key equipment indispensable for national security and economic construction. Independent research and development of large aircraft will stimulate national economic growth, promote scientific and technological progress, and realize national defense modernization. Are of great significance. The Yun-20 manufacturing is jointly participated by thousands of enterprises across the country, and it is unprecedentedly difficult to unify the manufacturing standards, which is the first time in the history of China's aviation industry.

In November 2014, Yun-20 was the first flight of 783 to arrive at the Zhuhai Air Show site, opening up China's first major international air show prelude. No. 783 uses a light gray coating different from the black in the past. The fuselage number 783 is black. The vertical tail is painted with a huge national flag. The workmanship of the fuselage is greatly improved compared with the previous domestic aircraft.

On March 20, 2016, China Central Television (CCTV) broadcast a "major project that created a new height of national strength." It is reported that China's large transport aircraft Yun-20 will complete its test flight in 2016 and deliver to troops in batches. July 6, 2016, the Air Force transport aircraft -20 granted mounted tipping ceremony, Xian Y-20 aircraft China's independent development was officially installed the air force, air force strategy marks a key step towards the ability to delivery. In November 2016, the Yun-20F-100 model exhibited at the Zhuhai Air Show was extended on the basis of the Yun-20 and replaced with a domestic engine.

On May 8, 2018, the -20 large transport aircraft was jointly launched with the Airborne Forces for airborne airdrop training, which is another leap in the construction of the Chinese Air Force's strategic projection capabilities and long-range airborne combat capabilities.

In the early morning of February 13, 2020, the Chinese Air Force dispatched a total of 3 types of 11 transport aircraft of the Yun-20, Il-76, and Yun-9, taking off from airports in Urumqi, Shenyang, Xining, Tianjin, Zhangjiakou, Chengdu, and Chongqing. , military airlift support to Wuhan, Hubei medical team and supplies, this is the Xian Y-20 large transport aircraft for the first time to participate in military operations other than war, the air Force also deployed active duty for the first time into the system large-scale and medium-sized transport aircraft performing an emergency airlift large task.

In mid-2014, there were reports that the PLA would purchase up to 400 transport-20 transport aircraft.

Judging from the rescue and disaster relief, troop build-up, and armed force projection needs faced by the PLA, China's demand for Yun-20 will be huge. Looking at only one air shipment batch, if you need to drop a tank armored brigade, two airborne tank regiments in the main battle direction, plus 1500 paratroopers and assault vehicles, command vehicles, and helicopters attached to paratroopers, then It takes about 250 Yun-20. The actual demand for the Yun-20 by the Chinese military is at least 300 or more. Such a large scale is enough for two aircraft manufacturers to operate at full capacity for 10 years.




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