China’s Globemaster?

The Chinese government acknowledged developing the country’s first domestically designed heavy airlifter, reported the South China Morning Post. Grainy photos appeared on the Internet in late December showing a purported prototype of the Xian Aircraft Industry Y-20 airlifter undergoing taxi trials at China’s flight test center in Xi’an in the central part of the country, according to the newspaper’s Jan. 4 report. “We are developing large transport aircraft on our own to improve the capability of air transport,” said Chinese defense spokesman Yang Yujun, reported Xinhua. He added that “the research and development of the large transport aircraft is going forward as planned,” without giving further details. The Y-20 strongly resembles the McDonald Douglas YC-15 demonstrator—the C-17’s slightly smaller progenitor. The Chinese airlifter prototype is apparently powered by four Russian-built turbofans, but production variants would ostensibly be equipped with more modern powerplants, according to the press reports.