A Y-20 transport aircraft taxis in Chengdu, capital of Southwest China's Sichuan Province on June 16, 2016. (Photo: VCG)
China's domestically developed large transport aircraft Y-20 for the first time conducted a large-scale military operation in a situation other than war, arriving Thursday in Wuhan with medical reinforcements and supplies to join the battle against the COVID-19 outbreak.
The arrival of the homemade strategic aircraft has become another confidence boost to the Chinese people, and showed China's determination to eliminate the coronavirus threat as quickly and effectively as possible, analysts said.
A total of 11 transport aircraft of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force, including multiple Y-20s, Il-76s and Y-9s, arrived at Wuhan's Tianhe International Airport from multiple locations across China on Thursday morning, carrying a military medical team of 947 people and 74 tons of medical supplies, media reported on Thursday.
(Photo: China Military Online)
According to a social media post by Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), the developer of the homemade aircraft, six Y-20s joined the operation.
This is the first time the Y-20 has conducted a large-scale military operation in a situation other than war, and also the first time the PLA Air Force has conducted a large-scale emergency aerial delivery mission systematically featuring large and mid-sized cargo planes, the PLA Air Force said in a statement on Thursday.
The Y-20, with a takeoff weight of up to 200 tons, is a strategic transport aircraft capable of transporting large batches of personnel, equipment and supplies, and has similar functions to the imported Russian Il-76, a military expert who asked not to be named told the Global Times on Thursday, noting that the domestically made Y-20 is not dependent on any other country and is more technically advanced than the Il-76.
To fight the virus outbreak, the PLA Air Force dispatched three transport aircraft to Wuhan on January 24, and eight more arrived on February 2, sending medical teams and supplies that were much needed there. The aircraft used in these two missions were Il-76s.
The deployments of large transport aircraft to fight the epidemic is an indication of China's determination to end the crisis as quickly as possible, as the military has shown a high level of efficiency due to its discipline and expertise, the expert said.
Featuring not only the strategic Y-20, but also the domestically made Y-9 tactical transport plane, the operation on Thursday showed the PLA Air Force has a complete family of homemade transport planes, and the two types of aircraft are ready to join any battle, experts said.
Seeing the Y-20, a symbol of China's power, in action has also become a confidence boost for Chinese public.
"Go forth, Chinese military! Let the great hawk spread its wings and expel the plague!" reads a typical comment on social platform Sina Weibo.