China's First Heavy Transporter Y-20 Takes Off

The prototype of China's first indigenously-developed heavy transport aircraft, Y-20, takes off from an unidentified airport for its first test flight Saturday afternoon, January 26, 2013. [Photo: Xinhua]

China began test flights Saturday for the prototype of its first indigenously-developed heavy transport aircraft, Y-20, a craft similar in size to the Russian IL-76 and somewhat smaller than the U.S. C-17.

The plane took off at around 2:00pm, according to CCTV News. But it didn't specify where the test was conducted.

The Y-20 program is part of an effort to develop an indigenous long-range jet-powered heavy transport aircraft, a top priority in China's "Medium- and Long-Term National Science and Technology Development Program (2006-20)" (MLP).

Y-20 is developed by Xian Aircraft Industry, a subsidiary of Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), the country's leading military aircraft maker.

Earlier reports said it's able to accommodate most large PLA combat and support vehicles, including the Type 99 series tanks, with a capacity to carry up to 66 tons of goods.