PLA Chinese Air Force Y-20 aircraft transport air defense missile unit for first time


According to Liu Xuanzun in Global Times, a surface-to-air missile unit of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force recently took part in a systematic confrontational exercise, in which it for the first time tested its quick deployment capability by flying with Xi’an Y-20 large transport aircraft. This method will significantly enhance China's air defense flexibility, analysts said on January 18.

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PLA Chinese Air Force Y 20 aircraft transport air defense missile unit for first time Long-range, rapid deployment of heavy surface-to-air missiles is made possible thanks to the PLA Air Force's commissioning of the Y-20 transport plane in large numbers  (Picture source: Wikimedia/L.G.Liao)


Stationed in Southwest China's border region, a land-based missile battalion affiliated with the air force of the PLA Southern Theater Command participated in the Red Sword exercise and won the top award, the Golden Shield, China Central Television (CCTV) reported on 16 January. The exercise marked the first time this battalion tested its quick deployment capability by flying with Y-20 transport aircraft, CCTV said.

Long-range, rapid deployment of heavy surface-to-air missiles has great tactical and even strategic significance, as it enables the PLA to enhance regional air defense in a flexible manner. This is made possible thanks to the PLA Air Force's commissioning of the Y-20 transport plane in large numbers, since an air defense missile unit usually consists of many elements that require a fleet of strategic cargo planes for transport operations, including launcher vehicles, radar vehicles and other command and support units, Liu Xuanzun reports.

In April 2022, many Y-20 large transport aircraft flew from China to Serbia over several consecutive days to deliver FK-3 air defense missile systems Serbia had procured from China. Observers called the mission at the time the largest overseas operation by the Y-20.

The Y-20 Kunpeng has been developed by the Xi'an Aircraft Industrial Corporation. The aircraft is nicknamed "Chubby Girl" in the Chinese aviation industry because its fuselage is much wider than aircraft previously developed in China.