The domestic-made medium-sized military transport aircraft Yun-9 is ready for combat mission, which will boost China's effort in safeguarding maritime rights, military experts said on Sunday after the aircraft completed exercises in the South China Sea.
The Yun-9 is now able to undertake combat missions after a fleet of the transport aircraft finished training in the South China Sea, Chinese People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) announced on Saturday on its official WeChat account.
It was the first long-range maritime exercise of the medium-sized transport aircraft, the PLAAF said.
The PLAAF didn't say on which date that the training was carried out, or the number of aircraft involved.
The Yun-9 completed its air-drop missions without assistance from ground control and the crew prepared procedures to cope with any emergency, Liu Bao, a PLA officer said, according to the PLAAF post.
"As the backbone transport aircraft of the PLA, the Yun-9's combat readiness means China has the ability to ensure military supplies reach offshore and even open seas," Wang Ya'nan, chief editor of Aerospace Knowledge magazine, told the Global Times on Sunday.
The Yun-9 will support China's mission to safeguard oceanic sovereignty and security, Wang said, adding maritime rights of the South China Sea always face challenges.
The aircraft, with more advanced features than its predecessor the Yun-8, should be the best-equipped transport aircraft in the PLA, said Wang. It can also be produced in greater number than the large-size transport aircraft the Yun-20, Wang explained.
The Yun-9 costs less than the larger Yun-20 transport aircraft and is more adaptable to airports, and is able to supply weapons, personnel and goods over medium-distances, another military expert told the Global Times on condition of anonymity on Sunday.
The training session demonstrated that the Yun-9 is reliable to finish its transportation missions. The Yun-9 can land on small islands if necessary, the expert said.
The Y-9 transport aircraft is manufactured by Shaanxi Aircraft Corporation, a company affiliated with Aviation Industry Corporation of China. The aircraft can carry a payload of up to 20 tons and 98 soldiers. Its flying range is up 4,200 kilometers, according to Aerospace Knowledge in October.
The transport plane flew from a military airport in Southwest China's Sichuan Province in the morning, landed on an island in the South China Sea around noon and returned the same night.
The medium-lift transport aircraft Y-9 has also undergone several other major training exercises in extreme weather, after it formally entered service with the PLA in 2016.