China’s aviation industry is working on the development of aircraft with short takeoff and vertical landing capabilities needed for an important role in the Chinese navy’s future operations.

In late March, the Aviation Industry Corp of China, the country’s leading aircraft maker, announced on its website that two of its subsidiaries – AVIC Chengdu Engine Group and China Aviation Engine Establishment – have signed a cooperation agreement on the development of the STOVL aircraft’s engine.

The statement said the STOVL aircraft project aims to strengthen the People’s Liberation Army navy’s amphibious combat capability and address the absence of such a weapon in the PLA’s arsenal.

Compared with conventional fixed-wing aircraft, a STOVL plane can be readied for action in a shorter period of time and occupies less space in a hangar bay or on the deck of a ship. These features have made it a popular choice for naval powers since late 1960s, when Britain’s subsonic Hawker Siddley Harrier became the first STOVL aircraft to be put in service.

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