By the 1970s, the Chinese aviation industry had mastered the production of transport aircraft, the Shaanxi Y-8 – a licensed copy of the Soviet An-12
The once warm relationship with the Soviet Union was the premise for the development of China’s defense industry, from aircraft, armor, warships and small arms. By the 1970s, the Chinese aviation industry had mastered the production of transport aircraft, the Shaanxi Y-8 – a licensed copy of the Soviet An-12. It has become one of China’s most popular military and civilian transport aircraft, with many variants produced and exported.
The Y-8 made its first flight in 1974. Then production was transferred from Xian to Shaanxi Aircraft Factory. Production commenced in 1981. Although the An-12 is obsolete and no longer produced, the Chinese Y-8 continues to be upgraded and produced. An estimated 169 Y-8s were built in 2010. The Y-8 has been exported to Burma, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tanzania, Venezuela, and possibly some other countries.
In the 1960s, China purchased several An-12 aircraft from the Soviet Union, along with license to assemble the aircraft locally. However, due to the Sino-Soviet split, the Soviet Union withdrew its technical assistance. The Xi’an Aircraft Company and Xi’an Aircraft Design Institute worked to reverse engineer the An-12 for local production.
The Y-8 is capable of carrying troops, dropping supplies, parachute drops, and functioning as an air ambulance. It also can be used for commercial uses as a freighter. It is capable of hauling 20 tons of cargo, approximately 96 soldiers, or about 82 paratroopers in the cargo compartment which is 13.5 metres long, 3 metres wide and 2.4 metres high. It can also carry 60 severely wounded soldiers with their stretchers, 20 slightly injured soldiers and 3 medical attendants.