Friday, October 16, 2015

China's Long Range Precision Strike Bomber

Xian H6!

People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) has extended her all-weather, long-range precision strike capabilities with a wickedly updated old school Soviet Tupolev Tu 16.

The H-6K is a derivative of the Soviet-era Tupolov Tu-16 twin-engined jet strategic bomber. However, the latest Chinese version of the bomber, first flown in 2007, has undergone major upgrades including new fuel efficient D-30-KP2 turbofans, lighter weight composites, and modern electronics.

Without refueling, the maximum range of the H-6K bomber  is 1,900 miles; however, it can be extended to 3,100 miles with two mid-air refuels, according to War is Boring, while carrying a payload of up to 12 tons. There are currently around 36 H-6K strategic bombers in service with the PLAAF.

The H-6K, which lacks stealth capacity, can carry up to seven YJ-12 supersonic anti-ship missiles (six on wing pylons plus one in the bomb bay) or CJ-20 subsonic land-attack cruise missiles with an estimated range of 250 and 1,500 miles respectively. “It can also carry a wide range of new precision-guided munitions available from four Chinese weapon manufacturers,” according to IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly.

The principal weakness, according to some military analysts, remains the targeting system of the H-6K, as well as the PLAAF’s overall targeting acquisition network. Not to mention her unstealthy assets.

While sporting a modern air-to-ground radar in the its large solid nose as well as a new electro-optical targeting pod, it remains unclear whether the H-6K (or the PLAAF as a whole) has the ability to collect accurate targeting information and process it quickly enough for bombing raids far away from the Chinese coast.


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