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GeoEye-1 image takes lid off secret Chinese plane

by Santosh Singh

Military transport aircraft require highly advanced engines which can carry the heavy payload to long distance. This combination engine stamina and strength has been achieved by only four companies in the world. There of these are western companies  The fourth is a Russian firm. There has been speculations for long on such aircraft being developed by the Chinese. But experts are divided on whether China has really developed the technology to build such an aircraft. But last week in an unusual revelation by Chinese authorities the existence of Xian Y-20 strategic transport aircraft. This was confirmed today ina satellite image released by GeoEye.

Below image was captured by GeoEye-1 satellite. This sensor acquires images at 41 cm resolution.


This GeoEye-1 image shows the Y-20 transport aircraft at Yanliang Airbase, near Xi’an, home of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force’s test establishment.
                                   Copyright © GeoEye and Courtesy of SATPALDA Geospatial Services.


Above image is sharper, more detailed and shot from a near nadir angle than the grainy first photos that appeared on Chinese internet forums in December, providing a much more reliable basis for assessing the transport’s aircraft’s design and layout. Slightly smaller than the U.S. Air Force’s workhorse C-17, the Y-20 sports the same wide wing and T-shaped tail as the Boeing-made C-17, blueprints of which China obtained many years ago through a spy working for the Chicago-based plane manufacturer.

With ever increasing resolution satellite images are taking place of spy planes which used to fly over enemy spaces with great risk. This spying battle being taken to space the paradigm of national security seems to have shifted. Curbs on flow of geospatial information are no longer effective in this day and age. With imagery at such high resolution available in commercial domain governments must think out of the box in order to provide sufficient security for military installations while the same time ensuring commercial growth of Geospatial industry is not stifled due to curbs based on archaic laws.

SATPALDA is a privately owned company and a leading provider of satellite imagery and GeoSpatial services to the user community. Established in 2002, SATPALDA has successfully completed wide range of photogrammetric and Remote Sensing Projects.

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