Y-20 cargo plane debuts at European air show, displays China’s aviation achievements
Published: Sep 01, 2022 08:55 PM Updated: Sep 01, 2022 08:51 PM
A Y-20 aircraft affiliated with a regiment attached to the PLA Central Theater Command Air Force releases flares during a training exercise. Photo: Zhang Meng

A Y-20 aircraft affiliated with a regiment attached to the PLA Central Theater Command Air Force releases flares during a training exercise. Photo: Courtesy of Zhang Meng

A Y-20 large transport aircraft of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force has arrived in Austria to participate in the largest air show in Europe starting on Friday. 

This is the first time that the Y-20 will be put on static display for the public in Europe, a move experts believe will display the tremendous achievements made by the Chinese aviation industry and the PLA Air Force, showing transparency and confidence.

The Austrian Armed Forces on Wednesday released a video showing the arrival of the Y-20, which will participate in the upcoming Airpower22 air show, after Senior Colonel Shen Jinke, a spokesperson for the PLA Air Force, announced on Monday that the aircraft would fly to Europe and join an international air show for the first time.

Organized by the Austrian Armed Forces and advertised as the largest air show in Europe, the two-day Airpower22 is scheduled to kick off on Friday. About 200 aircraft from 20 countries and regions will participate, according to the event’s website.

The Chinese transport plane will be put on static display for the general public at the air show, said the organizer.

The Y-20’s participation in the event comes after large groups of Y-20s flew to Serbia in April to deliver air defense missiles procured by the Eastern European country, which attracted wide attention in Europe.

By participating in an international air show in Europe, the PLA Air Force shows its transparency and confidence, and the display of the Y-20 will allow European visitors to the event to better understand China’s achievements in aviation and realize that the PLA Air Force is a force of peace, analysts said.

There are only few countries in the world that can independently develop military large transport aircraft like the Y-20, which reflected the Chinese aviation industry’s world-class level, Wei Dongxu, a Beijing-based military expert, told the Global Times on Thursday.

Being able to travel such a long distance from China to Austria also demonstrated Y-20’s capabilities, Wei said.

The Y-20 has made frequent appearances on the world stage, and it has become China's latest “calling card” that highlights the country's commitment to fulfilling its responsibilities and obligations as a major power, analysts said.

Among the Y-20’s overseas missions was a disaster relief supply delivery mission to Tonga in January after the island country in the South Pacific was hit by a volcanic eruption and subsequent tsunami. The plane also carried out an anti-epidemic material delivery mission to the Solomon Islands in February, as well as a disaster relief supply delivery mission to Afghanistan in June after an earthquake. In a latest development, the aircraft delivered relief supplies to Pakistan in late August after a flood hit the country.

China could also offer the Y-20 as an export-ready product now that the country has made breakthroughs in the development of domestic engines, Wei said.

Thanks to its outstanding cost performance, the Y-20 will be more competitive in the international market than its Russian and US counterparts, the Il-76 and the C-17, Wei said.