China’s official mouthpiece People’s Daily, considered a credible news source, is beginning to slip up of late, making a number of mistakes in the nomenclature of missile systems, dates of videos, etc.
The latest is more than a blooper; a video tweeted by @PDChina on July 27, 2020 of the maiden flight of Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) AG600 aircraft which took place on the preceding day contains glaring edits and apparent evidence of morphing.
Designed to be the world’s #largest, China’s independently developed AG600 large #amphibious #aircraft has conducted its 1st taking off from the sea surface in Qingdao, E China’s Shandong, on Sunday. It landed in Rizhao Shanxihe Airport at 10:49 am after a 28-minute test flight. pic.twitter.com/q6oRRozQfF— People’s Daily, China (@PDChina) July 26, 2020
China claims that the indigenously-developed AG600 is the world’s largest amphibious aircraft, and is designed to operate in complex weather and environment conditions.
The India Today OSINT team geolocated the various portions in the video, indicating very strongly that the maiden flight may not have been the complete success it is being described as.
The Take Off
The AG600 amphibious aircraft, a type which could well operate from the fairly placid waters of eastern Ladakh’s Pangong Tso lake, is shown in the maiden flight video as starting its run near the Qingdao cruise terminal which is seen at 0:01seconds.
The frame suddenly shifts to a different location at 0:02 seconds. Geolocation indicates the place is very familiar and peculiar shaped pentagonal building near the Qingdao amphibious aircraft base.
Thereafter, the aircraft continues its run to take off at 0:05 seconds. This indicates the run of the aircraft, which must have been without any load, was more than 4.5km.
Such an aircraft taking off in rough weather with a load, especially during emergencies, appears to be very difficult task now.
The Super Helicopter
China’s People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) and Navy (PLAN) routinely use helicopters to photograph the maiden flights of new aircraft.
The helicopter seen above the AG600 airplane in the video proves to be a super helicopter. It appears suddenly at 0:03 seconds and disappears as suddenly within a second.
The helicopter reappears in the middle of the frame at 0:07 and continues hovering over the aircraft till the end of the clip.
The helicopter then from 0:10 to 0:13 suddenly accelerates to move much faster than the aircraft, which has taken off with four WJ-6 turboprop engines, at unbelievable speed.
All this apparent trickery makes us conclude that the maiden flight of China’s largest amphibious aircraft AG600 was probably not a great success. The video published is heavily morphed and edited to show to the world that it was a success.
(Col Vinayak Bhat (Retd) is a consultant for India Today. A satellite imagery analyst, he served in the Indian Army for over 33 years)