World / Highlights

China urged to add fixed-wing aircraft

By Zhao Lei (China Daily) Updated: 2014-04-08 08:12

China is haunted by the lack of a fixed-wing aircraft specializing in maritime search, experts said, adding that the government should pay attention to the issue.

"Take a look at the fixed-wing aircraft involved in the current search for the missing Flight MH370. The US navy has assigned two Boeing P-8 Poseidon aircraft to the mission. The air forces of Australia, South Korea, New Zealand and Japan have sent several Lockheed P-3 series planes," said Cui Yiliang, an expert on ships and naval armament in Beijing. "By contrast, China dispatched two transport aircraft, Ilyushin IL-76s."

The IL-76 is undoubtedly an advanced airlifter, but compared to the P-3 and P-8 series, the Russian-developed aircraft is much weaker when it comes to maritime search and rescue operations, according to Cui.

"Those US aircraft, especially designed to conduct anti-submarine, maritime surveillance and electronic signals collection tasks, have many cutting-edge apparatuses that can be used in maritime search and rescue operations.

"However, I am afraid the Chinese crew members have to scour the vast search area with their eyes."

Cui said that fixed-wing aircraft are the most efficient tool for maritime search and rescue tasks.

"The area a P-3C is able to comb each hour will take a helicopter six hours, and the P-8 is even stronger than the P-3 series in terms of search capability."

Cui said he believes China hasn't used anti-submarine aircraft in the massive hunt because it does not have enough such aircraft.

Wang Ya'nan, deputy editor-in-chief of Aerospace Knowledge magazine, echoed Cui's comments, saying the country has been haunted by limitations in the use of its aircraft in long-distance maritime search and rescue operations.

"Earlier reports said the People's Liberation Army sent a Y-8 transporter to assist the search, but it is obvious that it didn't fly to Perth," he said. "Why? Because the range of the plane is too short, making it unable to stay in the air long enough."

Although the PLA has reportedly delivered anti-submarine aircraft to its navy, the limited flight range and insufficiency of such planes are issues that prevent the military from using them in search and rescue operations.

"China must accelerate the development and buildup of anti-submarine and maritime surveillance aircraft. They are very useful in civilian maritime operations.

"Considering that China has no overseas military bases and its airlines are rapidly expanding their global outreach, a reliable force of maritime search and rescue aircraft is crucial for us to deal with possible situations like the MH370 incident in the future."

Trudeau visits Sina Weibo
May gets little gasp as EU extends deadline for sufficient progress in Brexit talks
Ethiopian FM urges strengthened Ethiopia-China ties
Yemen's ex-president Saleh, relatives killed by Houthis
Most Popular
Hot Topics