China has conducted the maiden flight of the Xian Y-20 strategic transport from the Yanlian airbase.

Footage on Chinese state television shows the four-engined aircraft, bearing number 20001, taking off, landing, and taxiing. It does not appear to have retracted its landing gear during the flight, a common practice on maiden flights.

Official Chinese news agency Xinhua also posted images of the first flight.

The news comes just weeks after Beijing officially confirmed that it is developing the aircraft, following the emergence of images on Chinese defence sites during the last week of 2012.

"We are developing large transport aircraft on our own to improve the capability of air transport," China's defence ministry said.

"The advanced long-range carrier is being developed to serve the military modernisation drive, as well as to meet demands in disaster relief work and humanitarian aid in emergency situations."

The PLAAF now operates a fleet of 20 Ilyushin Il-76 strategic transports, with another 30 on order.

Source: Flight International