Beijing: China has unveiled the world's largest amphibious aircraft to fight forest fires and perform marine missions, the latest breakthrough in the communist giant's aviation industry seeking to reduce dependence on foreign firms like Airbus and Boeing.
The AG600 rolled off a production line in the southern city of Zhuhai, in what aviation observers see as a milestone for China, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
The aircraft has a maximum take-off weight of 53.5 tonnes, a maximum flight range of 4,500 km, and it can collect 12 tonnes of water in 20 seconds, according to state aircraft maker the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC).
The AG600 is by far the world's largest amphibian aircraft, about the size of a Boeing 737, AVIC deputy general manager Geng Ruguang said.
An amphibious aircraft can take off and land on both land and water.
The aircraft can help China, which is locked in disputes with several of its neighbours, including Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines over the rights to develop economic resources in waters off its shores, to extend its ability to conduct a variety of operations in the area.
The unveiling of the AG600 came shortly after Chinese heavy transport aircraft the Y-20 officially entered military service on July 7 and China's first large passenger aircraft, the C919, rolled off the final assembly line in November, 2015.
Geng described the AG600 as "the latest breakthrough in China's aviation industry".
It is the result of nearly seven years of work by a group of 70 aircraft component manufacturers and research teams with over 150 institutes from 20 provinces and municipalities in China.
The development and production of the plane received government approval in 2009.
China is seeking to develop its own aviation sector to reduce dependence on foreign firms like as European consortium Airbus and Boeing of the US.