Global Times - Weekend
DANCERS IN THE SKY
During the rehearsals that had begun some days before the start of the Airshow China 2022 in Zhuhai, South China’s Guangdong Province, aviation enthusiasts were fretting over constant rain worrying that bad weather may affect crowds for the highly anticipated flight performances by China’s latest aircraft.
That worry did not materialize when the six-day expo started Tuesday, when the rain ceased, and sunny days followed on Wednesday and the days after, as the dancers in the sky presented spectators a feast of spectacular aerial maneuvers.
For the first time at an air show, four J-20 stealth fighter jets of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force flew in a diamond formation, described by Yang Wei, chief designer of the aircraft, as a large tactical formation and a small system. Two of the J-20s conducted many maneuvers that amazed the crowd, including a close-range cross meeting and single aircraft’s fast ascent while rolling.
It was also the first time that China’s latest aerial tanker, the YU-20, developed based on the country’s own Y-20 large transport aircraft, delivered an aerial display during a public event. It for the first time released all three of its aerial refueling baskets, and as the bulky but flexible aircraft maneuvered in the sky, it was like three ponytails danced with it.
In another first, the PLA Army dispatched a Z-20 utility helicopter, Z-10 attack helicopter and Z-8L transport helicopter to conduct a flight performance in Zhuhai. It was beautiful to behold the choppers release flares as their engines and rotor blades roar in a distinctly different way than fixed wing aircraft.
Other aircraft participating in the show included J-10 fighter jets of the August 1 Aerobatics Team, K-8 intermediate trainers of the Red Falcon Aererobatics Team, the J-16 heavy fighter jet, the JL-10 advanced trainer, as well as civilian aircraft like the AG600M amphibious fire extinguisher aircraft and the C919 passenger aircraft.
The GJ-2, CH-4, Wing Loong 1E and Twin Tailed Scorpion drones also delivered flight performances, with the crowd witnessing the arrival of the age of unmanned warfare.