Chinese PLA’s Y-9 Aircraft Tasked To Secure India-China De Facto Border ‘Creates Aviation History’

China’s Shaanxi Y-9 tactical transport aircraft took part in a crucial military exercise abroad, according to reports. A video purportedly related to this event is doing the rounds on the internet.

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The aircraft belongs to the PLA Western Theater Command, which is tasked with securing China’s de facto border with India, also called the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

The exercise is held in the backdrop of the more than a year-long border standoff between PLA and the Indian Army in eastern Ladakh. 

The aircraft is a modified version of the Shaanxi Y-8 transport aircraft. According to Chinese military experts, PLA special mission planes such as the KJ-500 early warning aircraft, Y-8 anti-submarine warfare aircraft, Y-8 electronic warfare plane, and Y-9 reconnaissance aircraft are all modified variants of the Y-8.

Some of these aircraft have been in the news for their alleged intrusions into Taiwan’s Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ).

The Y-9 transport aircraft reportedly broke several records when it took off and landed in an airfield located on a high-elevation plateau. The aircraft flew for nearly 40 consecutive hours and more than 10,000 kilometers, Chinese state media reported without revealing in which foreign country the drills were conducted. 

The aircraft is affiliated to an aviation regiment under the Air Force of the PLA Western Theater Command, which is also the first PLA unit that completed takeoff and landing operations with a domestically developed transport aircraft in an airport at an elevation above 2,438 meters, China Central Television (CCTV) said in its report on September 14.

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Several factors such as challenging terrains and atmospheric pressure affect the takeoff and landing of airplanes in high-elevation plateau regions. “This proved that the Y-9 is a very sturdy and reliable aircraft and the pilots are well trained”, a Beijing-based military expert told the Global Times.

The Shaanxi Y-9

Developed by the Shaanxi Aircraft Company in China, the Y-9 is a medium-range, medium-sized, tactical transport aircraft. It is seen as China’s answer to the C-130 Hercules, developed by US aerospace giant Lockheed Martin.

Shaanxi Aircraft Industry showed models of the aircraft as the Y-9 at the 2005 International Aviation Expo in Beijing, to promote its use as a civilian transport.

However, its development was met with various technical challenges, which resulted in the maiden flight date shifting from 2006 to 2007 and then to 2008. Shaanxi had intended to produce its first production model for the PLAAF in 2009.

Shaanxi Y-9
The Shaanxi Y-9. (Wikipedia)

The Y-9 is powered by four Wojiang FWJ-6C turboprop engines and is equipped with 6-bladed JL-4 composite propellers. The tail ramp is capable of handling vehicle cargo and the aircraft is capable of transporting 25 tons of cargo.

For its troop transport role, the aircraft can be configured with 106 troop seats and for conducting medical evacuations, the aircraft can be configured with 72 stretchers.

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It can also carry up to 132 armed paratroopers. According to a recent report by EurAsian Times, the Y-9 tactical transport aircraft was in the news for its remarkable performance at the Aviadarts Flight Skills Competition during the International Army Games 2021 which were held in Russia from August 22 to September 4.

Chinese military pilots scored wins in the fighter and military transport aviation competitions, flying J-10 and Y-9 aircraft, according to TASS.