The aircraft is about the size of a Boeing 747 and is equipped with four turboprop engines of Chinese design- .
– AG 600 –
The AG 600 took off from Jinwan Airport in Zhuhai City, Guangdong Province, in the south of the country.
The aircraft can carry up to 50 people and stay in the air for up to 12 hours. Officially, it is designed to extinguish fires and carry out rescue operations on the water.
However, it can also be used for military purposes, for example in the South China Sea, where it is able to fly to all the islands that China claims.
The state agency Xinhua called the AG600 “a defender of the sea, islands and reefs.”
China is carrying out large-scale works on the artificial transformation of reefs in the South China Sea into islands in order to declare them part of its sovereign territory, around which the exclusive economic zone of the country extends within a radius of 200 nautical miles. Other countries in the region dispute the eligibility of these actions.
China considers almost all islands, reefs and rocks in the South China Sea to be its sovereign territory.
Other countries, washed by the South China Sea, do not agree with this – Brunei, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan and the Philippines. Their position is also openly supported by the United States.
In 2016, the international tribunal in The Hague in a decision on the lawsuit of the Philippines rejected China’s claim to almost all of the South China Sea.
China said that the decision of the tribunal is unreasonable and has no binding force.
The take-off of the AG600 was broadcast live on state television. On his return to the airport he was met by a crowd of people with flags and a military band.
The development of the aircraft took eight years. The length of its body is 39.6 meters, the wingspan is 38.8 meters. The maximum take-off weight is 53.5 tons.
According to Xinhua, the company-developer has already received orders for 17 machines of the AG600 type.
The AG600 is the world’s largest amphibious aircraft, but it is significantly smaller than the seaplane billionaire Howard Hughes.
The wingspan of the Hughes H-4 Hercules, known as the “Spruce goose” (although it was made mainly from birch plywood) reached 97.54 meters.
However, that plane took off only once in 1947, and its flight lasted only about 26 seconds.
Since then, he is in a museum in Oregon.