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Shaanxi Y-8

Tactical transport aircraft


The Y-8 has been one of the largest transport aircraft in China

Entered service 1981
Crew 5 men
Dimensions and weight
Length 34 m
Wing span 38 m
Height 11.16 m
Weight (empty) 35.49 t
Weight (maximum take off) 61 t
Engines and performance
Engines 4 x WJ-6 turboprops
Engine power 4 x 4 250 shp
Maximum speed 660 km/h
Cruising speed 550 km/h
Service ceiling 10.4 km
Range 5 615 km
Range (with maximum fuel) ?
Range (with maximum payload) ~ 3 600 km
Ferry range ?
Maximum payload 20 t
Troops about 96 troops or 82 paratroops up to 80 injured soldiers with medical attendants
Vehicles ?
Cargo compartment dimensions 13.5 x 3 x 2.4 m
Cannon 2 x 23-mm


   The Shaanxi Y-8 is an unlicensed Chinese copy of the Soviet Antonov An-12. In the 1960s China purchased a couple of An-12 airlifters, alongside with the license to assemble them locally. However due to Sino-Soviet split, the Soviet Union withdrew its technical assistance. In 1969 Xian Aviation Company began to reverse-engineer this aircraft for local production. The Y-8 made its first flight in 1974. Then production was transferred from Xian to Shaanxi Aircraft Factory. Production commenced in 1981. Even though in the early 1980s the original An-12 was already out-dated and Soviets were looking for a replacement, this aircraft recommended itself well. It is estimated that 169 Y-8 aircraft were produced until 2010. The Y-8 has become one of the most popular Chinese military and civilian transport aircraft. It has been one of the largest transport aircraft in China. The Y-8 has been exported to Burma, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tanzania, Venezuela, and possibly some other countries.

   The Y-8 has a glazed nose, however it differs from that of the An-12. This tactical airlifter is equipped with four WJ-6 turboprop engines.

   The Y-8 has a payload capacity of 20 t. It can carry troops, various military cargo, drop supplies and paratroops. It can also perform medical evacuation missions. The Y-8 accommodates about 96 soldiers or 82 paratroops, or up to 80 injured soldiers with medical attendants. First production models were fitted with side-hinged and inward-opening cargo doors. On later models these were replaced by ramp to facilitate loading and unloading operations. This aircraft can operate on unprepared airstrips.

   Lockheed Martin assisted Shaanxi in development and production of pressurized cabin for the passengers version of the Y-8. Two versions with pressurized cabins were developed. The first having half of the cabin pressurizes and the second having a completely pressurized cabin.

   This cargo aircraft was fitted with a tail turret for self-defense. It derived from that of the H-6 bomber. It was armed with two 23-mm cannons. On later production models this tail turret has been deleted. During the civil war some Sri Lanka Air Force Y-8 aircraft were used to drop bombs through the rear cargo doors.

   Early production models had a crew of five, including two pilots, flight engineer, navigator and radio operator. On later models the crew was reduced to three, including two pilots and loadmaster.

   About 30 variants of this aircraft were produced. Including those for specialized roles. New modifications continue to emerge. Only some of them are covered here.




   Y-8CA and Y-8CB electronic countermeasures aircraft;

   Y-8D export version with Western avionics;

   Y-8FQ maritime patrol aircraft;

   Y-8G airborne command post and electronic countermeasures aircraft;

   Y-8J various AWACS, ELINT and electronic warfare aircraft;

   Y-8T command post and battlefield surveillance aircraft;

   Y-8X maritime patrol aircraft with Western radar, avionics, mission systems and defensive aids;

   Y-8W airborne early warning aircraft;

   Y-9, a comprehensive upgraded stretched version of the Y-8 with greater payload and range. It can carry 25 t of cargo. It is a Chinese attempt to build a tactical transport aircraft, comparable with the C-130J Super Hercules. It was intended to replace the older Y-8. Development commenced in 2001. Ukrainian Antonov Design Bureau consulted Chinese on the redesign of the wings and fuselage. The Y-9 made its first flight in 2010. It became operational in 2012.


Video of the Y-8 tactical transport aircraft








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