China's aerospace capabilities at MAKS

At the International Aviation and Space Salon 2019 (MAKS) held from Aug 27 to Sept 1 in Zhukovsky, a small town near Moscow, China displayed a host of its latest products.

China's aerospace capabilities at MAKSAviation Industry Corp of China, the State-owned aircraft giant, showcased models of the domestically developed AG600 Kunlong seaplane, the world’s newest and largest amphibious aircraft, and the Wing Loong armed drone series at the biennial Russian air show, also known as MAKS 2019.

With a length of 37 meters and a wingspan of 38.8 meters, the AG600 is roughly the size of a Boeing 737.Powered by four domestically designed WJ-6 turboprop engines, it has a maximum takeoff weight of 53.5 metric tons. It is the world’s biggest amphibious aircraft, surpassing Japan’s ShinMaywa US-2 and Russia’s Beriev Be-200.

The seaplane will mainly be tasked with aerial firefighting, and maritime search and rescue operations. It can also be refitted to conduct marine environmental inspections, marine resource surveys as well as personnel and supply transport, according to AVIC.

It is designed for ground-and water-based takeoffs and landings and has an operational range of about 4,500 kilometers. It can carry more than 50 people.

When assigned to fight forest fires, it can collect 12 tons of water from a lake or sea in 20 seconds and use it to douse blazes over an area of about 4,000 square meters, the company said.

“If the seaplane is put into service, it will be able to extensively reduce economic losses caused by natural disasters,” Li Yang, an AVIC marketing manager for the AG600, said at the MAKS 2019.

Li said mass production of the AG600 is expected to start in 2023 after the aircraft’s scheduled receipt of all necessary certificates from the Civil Aviation Administration of China.

Two AG600 prototypes are currently undergoing tests. Designers and engineers are preparing for the first prototype to carry out sea-based flight tests, he said.

As the major military equipment from AVIC showcased at the International Aviation and Space Salon show, Wing Loong I and II combat drones, developed by AVIC’s Chengdu Aircraft Design and Research Institute, feature advanced designs, reasonable prices, easy-to-use controls and reliable technical support, information from the company said.

They are capable of reconnaissance and surveillance, electronic jamming, targeted strikes and border patrols. Besides military operations, they can perform civilian tasks such as disaster monitoring, environmental inspections, resource surveys and meteorological research, according to Wang Yaoxin, vice-president of China National Aero-Technology Import and Export Corp, an AVIC subsidiary and the biggest exporter of aviation defense products in China.