Why China’s New Refueler Y-20U is a bad news for India?

Yun-20U will greatly increase the combat radius of Chinese fighters, and that can make trouble for the Indian air force.

Why does China’s new tanker Yun-20U worry India so much? “Asia Times” reported that China is developing a new aerial refueling aircraft Yun-20U will greatly enhance the PLA Air Force’s long-range assault capabilities. This may have a huge impact not only on India but also on the entire Indo-Pacific region. The Yun-20U is a variant of China’s Yun-20 large military transport aircraft, with a maximum take-off weight of 220 tons. The tanker is expected to carry 60 tons of fuel, which is three times that of the previously made H-6U. The new Yun-20U is equipped with three hose gas stations, while China’s current H-6U only has two.

Chinese Aircraft - J-10 Firebird

Although the Chinese Air Force’s fighter group has achieved a leap, the current auxiliary aircraft types are still the Chinese Air Force’s weakness. The Chinese Air Force has about 24 H-6U and three Il-78 tankers imported from Ukraine. In actual combat operations, the frequency of use of tankers is not high. The new tanker will greatly improve the long-range assault capability of the PLA Air Force and greatly expand the combat radius of the fighter aircraft when it is heavily loaded. In military terms, the combat radius refers to the maximum distance an aircraft can travel from its base along a given route under normal load and return without refueling. However, if an aerial refueling is carried out, the combat radius of China’s H-6N bomber will be expanded by 25% to 30%, the combat radius of the J-11 and J-10 fighters will be expanded by 30% to 40%, and the Y-9 transport aircraft and special aircraft will be expanded by 30% to 40%. The combat radius of the aircraft is increased by 100%.

Military experts said that combining the Y-20 aerial tanker with the F-20 fighter jet and the H-6N strategic bomber can greatly expand the combat range of the Chinese Air Force, making it difficult for foreign forces to invade China’s coastal waters. Analysts pointed out that after receiving air refueling from the Y-20 aerial tanker, the J-20 can extend the range to 10,000 kilometers and the combat radius to 3,000 kilometers. The combination of the Y-20 tanker and the J-20 can cover the entire chain of the first island and the second island, becoming the most sharp weapon of the PLA Air Force in attack and defense.

ilyushin Il-78 tanker of IAF
ilyushin Il-78 tanker of IAF

However Indian armed force power in the Himalayas is superior because China only had two airports in Hotan and Kashgar. But After the Yun-20U enters service, the Chinese Air Force can take off fighter jets from further airports to participate in the battle, and can also extend the patrol time of frontline fighters. As a result, India’s so-called superiority in the number of fighters will be completely lost.

The Indian Air Force naturally knows the important role of tankers. The Indian Air Force purchased the first aerial tanker in 2003, the Russian Il-78. Currently, India has six such aircraft. The IL-78 can supply fuel for three fighter jets at the same time. Its total fuel carrying capacity is about 110 tons, and it can refuel 6 to 8 aircraft per mission. However, the Indian Air Force still needs more tankers. After all, India is too big, whether it is airspace or sea. Former Indian Air Force Marshal Anil Chopra said: “China will have 50 aerial tankers, so India must have at least a similar number of tankers.” India also hopes to have more tankers to ensure a greater number. The fighter jets can reach the front line.

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