Largest China-made amphibious aircraft can operate in South China Sea


MANILA, Philippines — The world’s largest China-made amphibious aircraft is capable of landing on and taking off from Beijing’s outposts in the South China Sea.

China’s independently-developed amphibious aircraft AG600 recently completed trial ground flights, Chinese state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

Huang Lingcai, chief designer of the large amphibious aircraft, said the Kunlong was designed to have a range of 12 hours and an operational range of up to 4,500 kilometers.

The amphibious aircraft also has the capacity to take off and land on 2-meter waves.

“That means AG600 can land on and take off from water in China’s islands in the South China Sea, which are well within range,” Huang told Xinhua.

Powered by four domestically built turboprop engines, the AG600 will be used for maritime rescue, fighting forest fires and marine monitoring.

Around the size of a Boeing 737, the aircraft can carry 50 people during search-and-rescue missions, collect 12 tons of water in 20 second for firefighting and transport up to 370 tons of water on a single tank of fuel, Xinhua said.

Since its maiden flight in December 2017, the aircraft has passed a series of tests. Over the weekend, the aircraft finished a trial flight from the city of Zhuhai in China’s Guangdong province to a city in the Hubei province.

The AG600 is the “youngest” of China’s large aircraft family, which includes the Y-20 large transport aircraft and the C919 large aircraft.

Chinese media earlier reported that the aircraft also has military applications. Reports have also noted its potential use in the South China Sea, where China and Southeast Asian countries, including the Philippines, have overlapping claims. — Patricia Lourdes Viray