China Flies Biggest Amphib


China flew the world’s largest amphibious flying boat Sunday in a move that might intensify tensions in the disputed South China Sea. The AG600 Kunlong is roughly the same size as a Boeing 737 and is powered by four big turboprops in the normal high-wing configuration of an amphib. It used its landing gear for the first flight, taking off from Zhuhai Airport in Guangdong and returning about an hour later.

The aircraft has been in development for more than 10 years and while it has a variety of applications, from firefighting to search and rescue, it’s the military applications that have attracted the most interest. With a loiter endurance of 12 hours and its ability to operate from moderate seas on the open ocean, it’s believed to have applications in the contested areas of the shipping lanes in the South China Sea.