The AG600, the world’s largest seaplane, was rolled out by a state-run Chinese company last week, which experts say is the country’s latest effort to bolster its nascent aviation industry.
The AG600 was unveiled by the state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China in the southern port city of Zhuhai, the official Xinhua news agency reported. Officials told Xinhua that the plane would be “very useful in developing and exploiting marine resources,” as well as for for “environmental monitoring, resource detection and transportation.”
The announcement’s timing was interesting, coming at a time when China is locked in a series of disputes with its neighbors like Japan, Vietnam, and the Philippines over sovereignty of the waters off its shores.
While the AG600’s wingspan is considerable, it is shorter than famed than the H-4 Hercules, aka the Spruce Goose, a notoriously large seaplane built in the 1940s by industrialist Howard Hughes to carry Allied troops into battle. That plane, however, only made one flight.