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China’s New Freight Plane Extends Military Modernization Program

Jan. 27 (Bloomberg) -- China successfully tested a locally-built freight plane, two months after the debut of its fighter jet, boosting the nation’s efforts to use homegrown technology to expand defense capacity.

The Yun-20, which had its maiden flight yesterday, can take a maximum load of 66 tons and is suited for long-distance transportation, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. The plane will aid the armed forces and will help deliver disaster relief and humanitarian aid, according to the report.

China achieved a military milestone when its fighter jet landed on its new aircraft carrier in November, extending a modernization bid that’s recorded advances in submarines, cyber warfare and in outer space.

The J-15 jet was developed and built by AVIC Shenyang Aircraft Corp., a unit of China’s largest aerospace company, Aviation Industry Corp of China. It can carry multi-type anti-ship, air-to-air, air-to-ground missiles and precision-guided bombs.

The aircraft tests underscore China’s progress in military modernization, which has been accompanied by a doubling of the defense budget in six years. China, the biggest spender on defense after the U.S., has become increasingly assertive in the region as President Barack Obama executes a strategic shift toward Asia and tensions rise with Japan and other nations over territorial disputes.

China’s defense spending, estimated at 670 billion yuan ($108 billion) in 2012, has more than doubled since 2006, tracking a rise in nominal gross domestic product to 47.2 trillion yuan from 21.6 trillion yuan.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Wenxin Fan in Shanghai at wfan19@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Tighe at ptighe@bloomberg.net

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