The amphibious AG600 is about the size of a Boeing 737 and will be used to fight forest fires and perform marine rescue operations, state-run news agency Xinhua said.
With a maximum take-off weight of 53.5 tons, the AG600 is the largest seaplane in the world, Xinhua said. It has a reported flight range of 4,500 kilometers and can collect 12 tons of water in only 20 seconds.
The Y-20, with a maximum takeoff weight of about 200 tons, officially joined the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in a ceremony Wednesday in the southwestern city of Chengdu, according to China’s Defense Ministry.
Designed to transport cargo and people over long distances in challenging weather, the Y-20 — powered by four turbofan engines — is reportedly capable of flying 4,500 kilometers with a full load. Its range would extend to almost 8,000 kilometers when carrying 40 tons of freight.
The plane is part of a massive program to modernize China’s armed forces, the world’s largest, which includes the development of aircraft carriers, anti-satellite missiles and stealth fighters.