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YY-20 / Y-20U tanker

The ammunition bay of the original H-6 bomber was changed to a fuel storage bay, and the hose refueling system was developed to give the Air Force preliminary air refueling capabilities. However, the fuel carrying capacity and flight time of HY-6 are still far behind that of large aerial tankers in the United States and Russia. The emergence of Xian Y-20 means that China fully existing aerial refueling system integrated into the Xian Y-20, developed a dedicated large air tankers. In addition, Yun-20 can also be used as a platform for anti-submarine patrol aircraft and electronic reconnaissance aircraft, further expanding the cruising range of China's air and sea forces.

The Fuel Transport YY-20 (official code Y- 20U ) not only exists, but has already entered the research and development test phase. The Yun-20 tanker reportedly made its first flight in March 2019. A short-term plan for a tanker variant of the Y-20 would entail installing refueling pods under its wings and by its rear. This method, similar to the one used on the Russian Il-78 and European A400M tankers, would make little change to the aircraft's structure. This method has relatively little technical difficulty and could be accomplished relatively faster and at a lower cost. It also allows the Y-20 to retain its full transport capability, and the aircraft could still act as a cargo plane.

Eventually, a better option is to get rid of some of the transport capabilities like aerial delivery in favor of an integrated refueling platform within the fuselage similar to the Boeing KC-767. This would be much more complicated and could take longer, but will let the Y-20 carry even more fuel and become a more efficient tanker. When repurposed for aerial refueling, the Y-20 could carry aas much as 90 tons of fuel, while China's current aerial tanker HU-6 can only carry less than 30 tons.

Few maneuvers in military aviation are more complex than aerial refueling. The maneuver brings into physical contact two aircraft hurtling through turbulent air at hundreds of miles per hour. One may be carrying thousands of pounds of high-explosive ordnance while the other carries thousands of gallons of highly flammable fuel.

Despite this complexity, military pilots perform aerial refueling numerous times daily, around the world, in all weather and at all hours. Intensive training is crucial to prepare the air refueling crew to ensure the safety of both the refueling and receiving aircraft, as well as to maximize mission success.

The U.S. Air Force uses an aerial refueling method that involves extending and lowering a telescoping metal boom from a tanker aircraft. Depending on the type of receiver aircraft being refueled, the tanker crewmember who operates the boom (the boom operator) uses a unique set of controls to either fly the booms nozzle into a refueling receptacle on the receiver aircraft or to extend a boom drogue adapter to receive a refueling probe. Developing the skills needed to operate the boom safely and reliably requires repetitive practice, much of which is currently gained during multiple training flights.

Some 500,000 elated members of the armed forces and civilians held a grand military and civilian parade at Tian'anmen Square on the morning of 01 October 2009, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. While the audience was still applauding the rumbling tanks that slowly roared past the square, 132 planes in 10 groups flew overhead. The show involved airmen from the army, navy and air force, a combination that appeared for the first time on a National Day military parade. The Chinese-made HY-6 aerial refueling tanker which made its debut at the show attracted special attention. When the refueling tanker dragging a long pipe flew over the square along with oil-receiving planes, no one would doubt the marked improvement in the long-range combat capability of the Chinese air force.

Beijing purchased four IL-78 refueling tankers, which will refuel the Russian SU-30 aircraft in both PLAAF and PLANAF inventoriesgiving them reach out into the Sea of Japan, the South China Sea, and to Guam. SU-30 aerial refueling training occurred during Peace Mission 2005, but Russian pilots were probably in all of the involved aircraft. Chinese aerial refueling capability was coming to fruition very slowly, but can no longer be dismissed by opposing force commanders.

Peter W. Singer and Jeffrey Lin reported 02 April 2014 in their Eastern Arsenal blog that China would soon receive three IL-78 Midas tankers from Russia. China originally purchased eight tankers from Russia in 2005, but the deal has been on hold for nearly a decade due to Russian inability to source new airframes. The tankers had been refurbished from Ukrainian Air Force surplus. The acquisition will give China the ability to refuel aircraft such as the Su-30 strike fighters and KJ-2000 Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEWC) system during extended missions over disputed maritime areas.

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In late 2018, a prototype suspected of being a Y-20U tanker appeared on the apron of Xi'an Yanliang Airport. Some netizens sketched the CG map and thought about the possible shape of the aircraft. Compared with the Yun-20A transport aircraft, the largest feature of the Yun-20U was the refueling pods under the left and right wings. It is judged to adopt a hose refueling method similar to the H-6U/Il-78 tanker, which can be two at the same time. The J-10 / J-16 / J-20 fighters are refueling, and it is believed that it will also refuel the H-6C cruise missile carrier and the Air Police-500A early warning aircraft.

Russian satellite network said on 08 December 2018 that such a modification not only solved the problem of air refueling of heavy fighters such as the Chinese Air Force J-11 series and Su-30MKK, but also brought China's air nuclear deterrent capability to a higher level. Taiwans Zhongshi Electronics News said on the 8th that foreign satellite photos were discovered in November, and the large tanker modified from Yun-20 was parked with the PLAs existing Il-78 and H-6 oil tankers. The report speculated that the newly modified tanker can carry about 70 tons of oil, which can meet the air refueling needs of 6-8 sorties of J-11 series or J-20 fighters.

The Russian satellite network said that the air tanker modified by the Yun-20 had been successfully flying for the first time. The report quoted Russian military expert Vasily Kashin as saying that the components of the aerial tanker and the main technical solution for converting large transport aircraft into aerial tankers were the Chinese experts who bought the former Soviet Union in Ukraine. The -78 tanker was copied from the base. According to reports, the Il-78 tanker was also built on the basis of the Il-76 large transport aircraft.

Although China has the ability to independently manufacture the H-6 oil tanker on the basis of the H-6 medium-range bomber, it is difficult to provide long-range bombers, patrol aircraft, long-range radar warning machines and radios due to the latters deadweight and capacity. Reconnaissance aircraft and other large aircraft refueling. At the same time, the bombing oil-6 has a small cabin and is not efficient for refueling the Su-30MKK heavy fighter. Therefore, it mainly provides fuel for the light fighters such as the J-8IID and the J-10 in the Chinese Air Force.

A Chinese expert told the Global Times reporter that the idea of using the Yun-20 as an aerial tanker has been around for a long time. After all, the experience of many wars shows that the aerial tanker has become an indispensable model in the modern air battlefield. It can greatly enhance the airborne capability of the fighter aircraft, and it can be called the "force multiplier." Whether it is the performance of the US Air Force in previous partial conflicts, or the recent tactics of the Russian Armys Tu-95MS bomber to attack 7,000 kilometers of terrorists in Syria, most of them were realized by relying on air refueling. To enhance the strategic capabilities of the Chinese Air Force, aerial tankers are also indispensable.

The Chinese Air Force expert Fu Shoufeng said in an interview with the Global Times that the Yun-20 can be considered to install detachable fueling equipment. When it is necessary to refuel in the air, it will be equipped with a mobile fuel tank and matching fueling equipment; if not, it will be dismantled and the aircraft would continue the transportation mission.

In fact, the aerial refueling system is divided into a hard tube refueling system and a hose refueling system. Basically, the hose is the international mainstream, and the hard tube is only controlled by the U.S. military, so this has led to only the use of American specifications and standard aircraft. According to analysis, the lack of hard-pipe refueling devices can be said to be the biggest shortcoming in the early stage of Fuel Transport-20. However, China has begun to develop hard pipes for refueling. According to the existing information, it is likely to mature in about 5 years. By then, Yunyou-20, as the only aerial refueling platform available to the People's Liberation Army, is likely to be equipped with a hard-pipe refueling device. The advantages of the hard tube are very obvious, that is, the refueling speed is faster, and the oil transportation can be completed in the shortest time. In the war period, every second is counted.

After the J-20 adopts hard-tube refueling technology, it can theoretically receive 12,000 liters, or nearly 10 tons of fuel, in about 2 minutes, which is close to the maximum internal fuel load of the J-20. After receiving fuel, the maximum range of the J-20 can exceed 8,000 kilometers, and the maximum combat radius can be extended to more than 3,000 kilometers. Analysis believes that the J-20 will be able to complete a transoceanic intercontinental flight like the F-22 after receiving fuel for many times. And with the ability to refuel in the air, with the Y-20 hard-tube tanker, the combat interception range of the J-20 can cover the first and second island chains, becoming a sharp "spear" with both offense and defense.

On the other hand, the analysis pointed out that since the loading data of Yunyou-20 has not been officially announced, it is difficult to calculate the oil carrying capacity of Yunyou-20. Taking into account that the design, specifications, and load capacity of the Yun-20 are similar to the Russian Il-76 large transport aircraft, Russia has modified the Il-78 aerial tanker based on the Il-76. Therefore, Yunyou-20 is likely to be similar to Il-78 in terms of modification and oil carrying capacity. Therefore, according to the parameters such as the oil carrying capacity of Il-78, the oil carrying capacity of Yunyou-20 should not be bad. too much.

The fuel supply method is the core technology of the refitting of aerial tankers and the key to the refitting of the fuel tanker-20. , The analysis pointed out that, based on the current news, it is speculated that the fuel supply mode of Yunyou-20 will still use hoses for refueling. The refueling pod is hoisted on the wing of Yunyou-20, and the refueling hose is extended backwards. Fighters and others refuel in the air. In addition, based on the experience of other tankers, there will be a refueling point located in the middle of the fuselage, so that Yunyu-20 can refuel three military aircraft at the same time.

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Page last modified: 22-11-2020 20:22:43 ZULU