China has started the development of a large, four-turboprop aircraft that is intended to be used as an air tanker as well as a platform for long-range air-sea rescues and anti-submarine missions. Named JL-600, the aircraft will be about the size of an Airbus 320 and is scheduled to be flight tested in 2013 and ready for mass production in 2015.
It will be able to take off on land or water and is expected to hold about 3,000 gallons of water or up to 50 passengers. Supposedly, it will be able to take off with waves up to three meters high. Its maximum speed will be about 348 mph and a range of of 3,200 miles. It will be a “scooper” and can be refilled in 20 seconds while skimming along on the surface of a lake.
One statement at Chinadaily.com was interesting:
As it flies at a height of 30 to 50 m over the treetops, the success rate of spreading water over a fire could reach 98 percent.