Three machines in the same frame, what’s the origin of this “fat girl”?

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Source: official account: Xiake island wechat ID: Xiake_ island

On August 24, at the press conference of 2022 Air Force Aviation opening activities held in Changchun, Jilin Province, the spokesman of the Chinese air force showed a photo of “three planes in the same frame” of yunyou-20, j-20 and j-16. The newly installed yunyou-20 was refueling two fighter planes in the air.

“Three machines in the same frame” is very interesting.


“Three machines in the same frame” photo (source:


China’s military news has always spared no words. In this year’s aviation opening-up activities, the air force j-20, yun-20, yun-20 and other “20 series” fighters will be displayed in a concentrated manner, showing the construction and development achievements of the air force in the “ten years of striving to build a strong army and striving to fly”, so that the dream of a strong army can “fly into the homes of ordinary people”.

Seeing the photos of “three aircraft in the same frame”, the friends of the military fans island should smile with heart: the “three aircraft” can become a large formation of three aircraft types to attack. The j-20 is responsible for “kicking the door” and the “Bomb truck” j-16 is responsible for cleaning. It is possible that there will be fighter planes with the word “boom” behind.

What about the “big guy” carrying oil-20 in the photo? Of course, they are not handyman.

In recent years, the Chinese air force has entered a period of rapid development, moving from a “land and air defense type” to a strategic service of “air and space integration and both offensive and defensive capabilities”. From the J-10, J-11, j-16 and j-20, to the air police-2000, air police-200, air police-500, air police-600, and the “six masters” (H-6) who have been “demonized” by various means, it is enough to catch people’s eyes.

However, the military fans can not wait to “urge the shift”. At a time when everyone was calling for “h-x” and “j-x”, the air force also made the appearance of “Pangniu” oil-20 very grand.

Don’t think the name of “fat girl” sounds like “flying shark” and “falcon Hawk”. It is a real big power.


Yun-20 and j-16 carried out air refueling training in the sea direction. Source: Xinhua News Agency


As far as the air defense type air force is concerned, combat aircraft should be the first, followed by ground support aircraft, then early warning aircraft and electronic warfare aircraft. However, in order to develop a strategic air force with both offensive and defensive capabilities, bombers and large transport aircraft have become “threshold aircraft”, and aerial refueling aircraft are a key link.

The reason is very simple: to carry out land air defense operations, we only need to consider what aircraft to send to the front line. But if we want to have both offensive and defensive capabilities, we must rely on transport planes and aerial refueling planes.

In those years, the Chinese military aircraft went to the southern part of the South China Sea to carry out missions, and the air time was only a few minutes. At that time, everyone dreamed of having aerial refueling technology. Fortunately, the Chinese Air Force subsequently equipped the tanker H-6 transformed from H-6, which greatly improved China’s long-range assault and comprehensive air combat capabilities.

However, the “six masters” are “masters” and cannot escape the natural law – they are too old and too small. As a modification of the bomber, the maximum take-off weight of the boom oil-6 is 75.8 tons, the maximum oil load is 37 tons, and the oil delivery capacity is 18.5 tons. The efficiency is not high. Refuelling the J-10, a “small appetite” fighter, can fill up six at a time; However, if we need to feed the J-11 modification or the j-16, which has an internal fuel capacity of more than 10000 liters, we can not feed two of them, let alone the early warning aircraft with a larger “food capacity”.

There is no way to do this. After all, at the beginning of the bomber’s design, priority was given to penetration operations, and oil transportation was not a specialty. Even if the aircraft is refitted afterwards, the load-bearing structure and necessary passages of the aircraft can not be dismantled, because the oil tank has its own fixed shape. After the change of the H-6 tanker, it can only use the narrow space of the bomb compartment to carry oil, which wastes a lot of land.


Boom oil-6 (picture source: China Military Network)


After a long wait, “Pangniu” was finally launched. According to the introduction of the Chinese air force, the yj-20 can effectively enhance the long-range mobility of the air force, and can also undertake the same air delivery mission as the yj-20.

According to the data, the maximum take-off weight of yunyou-20 is about 200 tons, and the carrying capacity is about 60 tons, which completely gets rid of the embarrassment of carrying oil in the bomb compartment of yunyou-6.

Since the refitted self transport aircraft, “Pangniu” has no choice in terms of transport efficiency, air stagnation time, internal structure and fuel carrying capacity. It can not only refuel various fighters with fuel receiving devices, but also refuel early warning aircraft and special aircraft in the air, greatly improving the forward capability of the air force’s combat system.

Deploy both offensive and defensive forces, give play to strategic deterrence, and have a “fat girl” to have a bottom!

In order to reduce the risk probability, the combat formation must reduce the number of aircraft dispatched as much as possible. For example, a large formation that truly carries out strategic combat tasks may include escorting combat aircraft, supporting early warning aircraft, electronic station aircraft, assault bombers or fighter planes. If more than a dozen oil-20 aircraft are sent to follow, it will not be cost-effective in terms of safety and economy. If the load of transport aircraft supplying fuel can be larger, it is certainly more ideal.

The oil transport-20 plays a great role in improving our army’s long-range assault capability. However, as a 200 ton transport aircraft, it is still in the medium-sized quasi strategic ranks, and still lags behind the world’s top models. There is still room for improvement in oil supply capability. Face up to the gap and continue to work hard. The future is very foreseeable.

The strategic air force is the long sword of a big country, but the long sword should not only have a sharp blade, but also have a solid “sword clip”, which is the standard configuration of a big country.

(text / Qianliyan)

Edit / DIANCANG, Ayanami

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