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Half A Dozen Chinese Y-20 Cargo Jets Popped Up Over Europe Last Night

Nan Yang

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Half A Dozen Chinese Y-20 Cargo Jets Popped Up Over Europe Last Night

The flight of Y-20 transports reportedly delivered weaponry to Serbia but also served as a demonstration of China's growing global reach.

BY STETSON PAYNE AND TYLER ROGOWAY
APRIL 9, 2022

Y-20 Serbia
VCG VIA GETTY IMAGES—2021 VCG

Flight trackers got an interesting surprise late Friday night when six People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) Y-20 cargo planes appeared heading west in Turkish airspace towards Serbia.

Open-source aircraft tracker Evergreen Intel told The War Zone fellow tracker @ameliairheart first spotted the flights just north of Istanbul, Turkey.

“This was my cue to bring up both Flightradar24 and my ADSBexchange selective database that includes Y-20A/U known hex codes,” Evergreen Intel told The War Zone. “Sure enough, the different apps showed other Y-20s along the same flight route, spaced out about 100km apart stretching from Istanbul all the way to almost the Georgian border.”

“This was unique in that it was in the early hours and with so many Y-20s together, all using MLAT (multilateration). Given that it was said to be a scheduled weapons delivery, this makes sense. Similar NATO deliveries to Poland or Ukraine by military transports have used MLAT before.”

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Nan Yang

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China makes delivery of anti-aircraft missiles to Russian ally Serbia, say military experts
  • The Chinese cargo planes with military markings were pictured at Belgrade’s Nikola Tesla airport on Sunday
  • The move raises concerns that an arms build-up in the Balkans during the war in Ukraine could threaten the fragile peace in the region
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Associated Press
Published: 12:37am, 11 Apr, 2022
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A Y-20 transport aircraft on display at Airshow China in Zhuhai city in 2018. Military experts said six Chinese Air Force Y-20 transport planes landed at Belgrade’s commercial airport on Saturday. Photo: AP

Russian ally Serbia took the delivery of a sophisticated Chinese anti-aircraft system in a veiled operation this weekend, amid Western concerns that an arms build-up in the Balkans at the time of the war in Ukraine could threaten the fragile peace in the region.

Media and military experts said on Sunday that six Chinese Air Force Y-20 transport planes landed at Belgrade’s civilian airport early on Saturday, reportedly carrying HQ-22 surface-to-air missile systems for the Serbian military.

The Chinese cargo planes with military markings were pictured at Belgrade’s Nikola Tesla airport. Serbia’s defence ministry did not immediately respond to a request from Associated Press for comment.

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A Y-20 transport aircraft on display at Airshow China in Zhuhai city in 2018. Military experts said six Chinese Air Force Y-20 transport planes landed at Belgrade’s commercial airport on Saturday. Photo: AP

The arms delivery over the territory of at least two Nato member states, Turkey and Bulgaria, was seen by experts as a demonstration of China’s growing global reach.

“The Y-20s’ appearance raised eyebrows because they flew en masse as opposed to a series of single-aircraft flights,” wrote The Warzone online magazine. “The Y-20′s presence in Europe in any numbers is also still a fairly new development.”

“The Chinese carried out their demonstration of force,” said Serbian military analyst Aleksandar Radic.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic all but confirmed the delivery of the medium-range system that was agreed in 2019, saying on Saturday that he will present “the newest pride” of the Serbian military on Tuesday or Wednesday.

He had earlier complained that Nato countries, which represent most of Serbia’s neighbours, are refusing to allow the system’s delivery flights over their territories amid tensions over Russia’s aggression on Ukraine.

Although Serbia has voted in favour of UN resolutions that condemn the Russian attacks in Ukraine, it has refused to join international sanctions against its allies in Moscow or outright criticise the apparent atrocities committed by the Russian troops there.

Back in 2020, US officials warned Belgrade against the purchase of HQ-22 anti-aircraft systems, whose export version is known as FK-3. They said that if Serbia really wants to join the European Union and other Western alliances, it must align its military equipment with Western standards.

The Chinese missile system has been widely compared to the American Patriot and the Russian S-300 surface-to-air missile systems although it has a shorter range than more advanced S-300s. Serbia will be the first operator of the Chinese missiles in Europe.

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Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic. Photo: DPA

Serbia was at war with its neighbours in the 1990s. The country, which is formally seeking EU membership, has already been boosting its armed forces with Russian and Chinese arms, including warplanes, battle tanks and other equipment.

In 2020, it took delivery of Chengdu Pterodactyl-1 drones, known in China as Wing Loong. The combat drones are able to strike targets with bombs and missiles and can be used for reconnaissance tasks.

There are fears in the West that the arming of Serbia by Russia and China could encourage the Balkan country toward another war, especially against its former province of Kosovo that proclaimed independence in 2008. Serbia, Russia and China don’t recognise Kosovo’s statehood, while the United States and most Western countries do.
 

Char

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The plane passed through Azerbaijan and Turkey instead of Pakistan, Iran and Turkey, which was a surprise!
 

Hamartia Antidote

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He had earlier complained that Nato countries, which represent most of Serbia’s neighbours, are refusing to allow the system’s delivery flights over their territories amid tensions over Russia’s aggression on Ukraine.

Again Trump must be smiling at how China's relations with the EU is taking more and more hits.
 

proka89

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In 2020, it took delivery of Chengdu Pterodactyl-1 drones, known in China as Wing Loong. The combat drones are able to strike targets with bombs and missiles and can be used for reconnaissance tasks.

Serbia never ordered Wing Long, we have ordered CH-92A, and its already delivered to us, part of the deal was to ge China help with development of Serbia domestic UCAV Pegaz, which is in the same class.

CH-92A Serbia:
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Pegaz Serbia (have in mind this is the picture of the prototype, before redesign in China). Our ministry of defense announced that development is completed and all UCAV are delivered to Serbia, but we are still waiting for a presentation. It should more or less have the same characteristics as the CH-92A, and use the same weapons.
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6 CH-92A and 12 Pegaz, will be in the newly formed 353rd Reconnaissance Squadron of the in the 98th Air Brigade. Pegaz will be domestically produced with technology transfer from China.

Serbia also already confirmed that we have ordered CH-95, and according to our ministry of defense, we will work on development of the UAVs larger then CH-92 and Pegaz with the help from outside of the country. So my guess is that it will be done something like in the case of CH-92A and Pegaz, but this time it will be CH-95 and something based on it, with technology transfer to Serbia. These should form new reconnaissance squadron.

And there is also the latest news, that Serbia plans to buy Bayraktar TB2 from Turkey. This was mentioned already in 2020, but few days ago it was confirmed by our president. My guess here is Bayraktar's reputation, and trying to diversify UAV sources.
 

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