The AG600 “Kunlong” aircraft recently completed its first lift-off flight from the sea. As the development of this aircraft nears completion, the prospects are many. However, this would be a considerable asset for China wishing to assert even more its supremacy in the maritime space of Southeast Asia.
An interest in the South China Sea
Currently, and since 2013, China has invaded most of the Paracel Islands and the Spratly Islands, two archipelagos located in the South China Sea. These are claimed by several other countries including the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Brunei. Representing a certain interest since located on a strategic and commercial crossroads, the areas around these islands and islets also contain many natural resources, namely halieutic (fish) and geological (oil, gas).
Thus, China is very active in the region, building veritable fortresses on these islands which are growing year by year. To further consolidate its supremacy over the seas, China has developed the AG600 “Kunlong”, the largest amphibious aircraft in the world. At the origin of this project, we find the public aircraft manufacturer Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC).
China mentions civilian use
As a statement from the Xinhua News Agency on July 26, 2020, a major exercise has taken place in China. Indeed, the AG600 made its first flight with take-off from the sea. The aircraft took off from the Yellow Sea for a duration of 31 minutes. Recall that its inaugural flight took place at the end of 2017. However, the plane had taken off from dry land. Now we know that the AG600 can take off and land on any surface, thanks to its wheels and floats under its wings.
Remember that the aircraft measures 37 m long for a wingspan of 39 m, a size approaching that of the Boeing 737. Capable of carrying around fifty passengers over a distance of 4,300 km, the AG600 can also be used as a water bomber to fight against forest fires. The craft can also be used in rescues at sea and other emergency situations.
While the Xinhua news agency discusses the aircraft’s civilian strengths, there is little doubt about future military use. In the context of the intensification of the Chinese hold on the South China Sea, the AG600 could facilitate the movements, both of men and of material. Finally, China is once again proving that it has an aircraft manufacturer capable of producing reliable aircraft. Thus, independence from the giant’s Airbus and Boeing is becoming more and more precise.
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