China Commissions Aerial Refueling Variant Y-20 Heavy-lift Aircraft

China has formally commissioned the air refueller variant of the Y-20 Kunpeng jet-powered strategic transport aircraft.

Senior Colonel Shen Jinke, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) spokesperson, said during a press conference on 31 July that the tanker had started combat-readiness training. “The aircraft recently carried out aerial refuelling exercises with the J-16 strike fighter above the sea, and the operations helped to improve combat training,” he said.

Images by the state-owned broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) show the aircraft using a probe-and-drogue system to refuel two Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (SAC) J-16D fighter aircraft.

Col Shen added during the press conference that the aircraft has been designated as the YY-20. Similar to the Y-20, the new tanker is manufactured by Xi’an Aircraft Company (XAC), which is a subsidiary of the state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC).

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