China’s YU-20 tanker aircraft hosts aerial refueling drills for two J-20 stealth fighter jets
Liu Xuanzun Published: Sep 29, 2022 09:27 PM
A YU-20 tanker aircraft hosts aerial refueling exercises for two J-20 stealth fighter jets. Photo: Screenshot from China Central Television
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force on Thursday published for the first time a video showing a YU-20 tanker aircraft hosting aerial refueling exercises for two J-20 stealth fighter jets, displaying the YU-20’s high flexibility and the increasing number of J-20s in active service, analysts said.
This is the PLA Air Force’s special way of celebrating the upcoming National Day on Saturday, reads a press release by the PLA Air Force posted on social media platforms.
Previously, the PLA Air Force published a video showing a YU-20 tanker aircraft hosting aerial refueling exercises for two J-16 fighter jets, and another video showing a YU-20 hosting aerial refueling exercises for a J-16 and a J-20.
The YU-20 can conduct aerial refueling for warplanes including the J-20, the J-16 and the J-10C, and such aerial refueling exercises have been carried out multiple times in high-altitude plateau regions and above the sea, enhancing the PLA Air Force’s long-range maneuvering capabilities, Senior Colonel Shen Jinke, a spokesperson for the PLA Air Force, said at a press conference on Tuesday.
Being capable of hosting aerial refueling for different types of aircraft separately or at the same time in various challenging environments shows the YU-20’s high flexibility and adaptability, a Chinese military aviation expert who requested anonymity told the Global Times.
It demonstrates that the domestically developed YU-20 has become technically mature, and with more aircraft of this type expected to be built, they will become a backbone for the PLA Air Force’s strategic reform, the expert said.
The other protagonists in Thursday’s video, the J-20s, also saw new developments recently, as Shen said that more J-20s have been commissioned across all the eastern, southern, western, northern and central parts of China, have flown greater distances, and are playing increasingly important roles.
With the successful development of the domestic engine, the J-20 has entered mass production, and it is only a matter of time before PLA Air Force units in all parts of the country get the advanced stealth fighter jet, the expert said.
With combat capabilities amplified by the YU-20 tanker aircraft and its numbers increasing, the J-20 will better safeguard national sovereignty, territorial integrity and development interests in the face of external threats and foreign provocations, observers said