A crowd waves flags during a ceremony to unveil the AG600 amphibious plane in Zhuhai, China, July 23, 2016. (Photo by AFP)
China has built the world’s largest amphibious aircraft, which will be used to perform marine rescue operations and fight forest fires, local Chinese media report.
The Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) unveiled the aircraft on Saturday in the city of Zhuhai in China’s Guangdong Province, the Xinhua news agency said.
The plane, named the AG600, is about the size of a Boeing 737 with a maximum range of 4,500 kilometers.
AVIC’s deputy general manager, Geng Ruguang, said that the AG600 is far larger than any other aircraft produced for marine takeoff and landing, adding, it was “the latest breakthrough in China’s aviation industry.”
According to Xinhua, the AG600 will be “very useful in developing and exploiting marine sources” and that it could be used “for environmental monitoring, resource detection and transportation.”
China’s largest military transport aircraft, the Y-20, entered service earlier this month. It is the largest transport aircraft built in China and has a maximum payload of 66 tons and can carry cargo with that weight for as far as 4,400 kilometers.
This undated photo shows two Chinese jet fighters during a military drill in the South China Sea near China. (By AFP)
China is engaged in territorial disputes with its neighbors in the East and South China seas.
The disputes have at times drawn in trans-regional countries, particularly the US.
Beijing accuses Washington of meddling in regional issues and deliberately stirring up tensions in the South China Sea. The US, in turn, accuses China of carrying out what it calls a land reclamation program in the South China Sea by building artificial islands in the disputed areas.
Earlier in July, The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled that Beijing’s claims to islands in the South China Sea had no legal basis, siding with the Philippines, which had filed the suit. China has rejected the ruling.