China to build amphibious air tanker


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.

JL-600 Chinese amphibious air tanker
Concept, for JL-600 Chinese amphibious air tanker

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 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.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

One thought on “China to build amphibious air tanker”

  1. Great…. another thing with the label, “Made in China”. Looks like a good platform, but that’s the same thing I thought when I put on my underwear and t-shirt this morning (Made in China). Go figure.

    Sure would be nice to see (hear about) some excellent air tanker innovations being sought by the U.S. experts in wildland fire.

    If I’m not mistaken, the USFS is two years late on providing “a required report” to the OGC, OIG, and Congress on how they are going to mitigate the losses in the LAT program? Did I miss it somewhere?

    Looks like a great future air tanker platform…. sure would be nice to see… MADE IN AMERICA for a change.



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