China sees an opportunity to export the Xian Y-20 strategic transport, with a number of variants planned.

The remarks about the aircraft's overseas potential were reportedly made by Tang Jun, chairman of Xian Aircraft, which has produced a prototype of China's largest indigenously produced airlifter to date.

The report also quotes "aviation industry insiders" as saying that the Y-20 will be operational in China by 2017, and that the programme had its genesis in the 1990s.

Tang, however, gave no indication of the overall number of Y-20s that Beijing hopes to obtain.

The Y-20 conducted its first flight in late January from China's Yanlian airbase. The flight was covered extensively by the Chinese media.

After images of the four-engined airlifter appeared on Chinese defence websites in late 2012, Beijing confirmed the programme's existence in early January 2013.

The Y-20 is smaller than the Boeing C-17, but larger than the Ilyushin Il-76. Although Beijing has made great strides in developing its fighter fleet in recent years, the People's Liberation Army air force has a number of capability gaps, including strategic transport.

Source: Flight International