Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Old Soviet warhorse fills the gap as H-20 is delayed

A PLA H-6K bomber flys above the Taiwan Strait. Taiwan's Yushan Mountain is seen in the background. Photo: PLA

The PLAAF will use a modernized version of the 1960s-era Tupolev Tu-16 as it tests Taiwan's coastal defenses


China’s air force will have to continue relying on an aircraft that first saw service in the late 1960s as a copycat of a redundant Soviet design as it waits for the much-anticipated H-20 heavy strategic bomber.

As a stop-gap measure, Xi’an Aircraft Industrial Corp in central Shaanxi province is expediting production of the H-6K, a modernized version of the H-6 series that China modeled on the old Tupolev Tu-16 bomber.

The H6-K uses the same Soviet airframe but incorporates more recent Chinese technologies in its wings, air inlet and weapons bay. It also has a stealth coating, which wasn’t available to the original Soviet designers.

It might be a hybrid, but the bomber has a vital role to play for the People’s Liberation Army Air Force: it must be able to destroy airbases on Taiwan’s eastern, or Pacific Ocean coastline.

There are rumors the PLA plans to extend the H-6K’s operations zone as far as the US territory of Guam. By that time it will have acquired new avionics and fly-by-wire systems, as well as an air refueling probe and drogue to enable longer flights.

Other reports suggest that the PLA Navy may establish an H-6K squadron that is capable of carrying YJ-12 and other air-launched anti-ship missiles to boost its firepower.

Analysts say the PLAAF will need bombers that are more versatile and reliable to support China’s declared objective of militarily encircling Taiwan and enforcing its claims to atolls in the South China Sea.

So far the H-6K has been in active service with squadrons at three PLAAF regiments, all reportedly stationed in central provinces, that have been tasked with sending missions to test Taiwan’s air defenses. These are likely to become commonplace as China steps up its rhetoric against the island.

It is believed the H-6Ks, which carry an air-launched variant of the CJ-10 land-attack missile with a range of up to 1,500 kilometers, could pose a significant threat not only to Taiwan but also Japan and Guam if their stealth technology allows them to elude radar detection. The H-6K regiments can simultaneously fire 360 missiles if all bombers are used.

Original post: atimes.com

H-20 Strategic Stealth Bomber


According to popularmechanics.com the head of the Chinese Air Force has confirmed rumors that the country is working on a new long-range bomber. The plane would replace China's fleet of bombers based on antiquated Cold War designs. It probably will have a large payload, long range, and a stealthy radar profile—but likely won't carry nuclear weapons.

There are virtually no details available about the new bomber, but we can make some informed guesses. China's bombers are given the prefix "H"—for bomber—so let's think about what a new "H-X" bomber might look like.

First of all, the aircraft is not likely to be nuclear-capable. China has a nuclear "No First Use" policy, meaning it won't be the first side in a conflict to use nukes. As a result, it has a nuclear arsenal tied to the idea that the country would survive a first strike without enough nukes left to deal a punishing blow to the enemy. Bombers are vulnerable to surprise attack. Unless China were to keep an expensive force of nuclear bombers in the air 24/7, then making them nuclear-capable wouldn't be worth it.

Military Armed Forces

H-X will almost certainly be aimed at countering American forces in the Western Pacific. China has pursued a strategy of "anti-access, area denial" to keep American aircraft carriers and other major assets from loitering off the coast of Asia. The new bomber will carry air-to-ground missiles, particularly anti-ship cruise missiles to attack aircraft carriers and their escorts. China will use them in conjunction with its "carrier killer" ballistic missiles and attack submarines to create a triple threat that would overwhelm a carrier battle group's defenses.

Military Armed Forces

The new bomber will carry cruise missiles instead of conventional bombs, in part because H-X will be expensive to develop and purchase, and flying it directly over a (heavily defended) target would be risky. Unlike the H-6, which carries cruise missiles on its wings, the bomber would carry long-range cruise missiles on internal rotary launchers to preserve its stealth profile. The plane will likely carry at least eight cruise missiles such as the DH-10 in order to overwhelm enemy defenses—and justify the bomber's development cost.

As far as range, if the H-X is not a nuclear-capable bomber then it doesn't need the ability to reach the United States. But it does need to reach out across the Western Pacific. Anti-ship ballistic missiles such as the Dong Feng ("East Wind")-26 have a range of about 3,000 miles, so we can assume that's about the baseline for the bomber's range. This will also allow it to carry out strikes against Japan, the East China Sea, American bases on Guam, and even Australia. Source: popularmechanics.com

It was reported in November 2015 that the aircraft could feature twin dorsal S-shaped engine intakes with saw tooth lips similar to those of B-2. 


Consequently the engines are sunk into the main wing structure to further reduce the RCS. It was reported in December 2015 that a 3D digital prototype was built. It was reported in February 2017 that the QC platform of the digital prototype was built. 


The first prototype could fly as early as 2019. The latest rumor (August 2017) claimed that the first prototype (or a flying wing technology demonstrator?) rolled down the assembly line at XAC on June 8, 2017 but this has not been confirmed. Source: chinese-military-aviation.blogspot.com

H-20 deconstruction diagram

Source: takungpaocom



H-6K/N/M/HK bomber: Details

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