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The Xian H-6 (Chinese: 轰-6; pinyin: Hōng-6) is a licence-built[1] version of the Soviet Tupolev Tu-16 twin-engine jet bomber, built for China's People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF).

Delivery of the Tu-16 to China began in 1958, and the Xi'an Aircraft Industrial Corporation (XAC) signed a licence production agreement with the USSR to build the type in the late 1950s. The first Chinese Tu-16, or "H-6" as it was designated in Chinese service, flew in 1959. Production was performed by the plant at Xi'an, with at least 150 built into the 1990s. China is estimated to currently operate around 120 of the aircraft.[3]

The latest version is the H-6N, a heavily redesigned version capable of aerial refueling and carrying air-launched cruise missiles. According to United States Department of Defense, this will give the PLAAF a long-range standoff offensive air capability with precision-guided munitions.[4][5]

Design and development

The first domestically produced H-6 was completed in 1968[3] and evidence of bombing training was recorded by U.S. spy satellites on August 13, 1971.[3] By March of the following year, the CIA estimated that the PRC had 32 aircraft operational with an additional 19 awaiting completion.[3]

The H-6 was used to drop nine nuclear devices at the Lop Nur test site. However, with the increased development in ballistic missile technology, the nuclear delivery capabilities that the H-6 offered diminished in importance. The CIA estimated in 1976 that the H-6 had moved over to a dual nuclear/conventional bombing role.

Developed versions

PLANAF HY-6U with aerial refuelling pods (2018) "The most distinct difference between HY-6U and HY-6D is that HY-6U has a metal nose cone,while HY-6D still has the transparent glass nose"

Along with the H-6 free-fall bomber, an "H-6A" nuclear bomber was built, as well as an "H-6B" reconnaissance variant, "H-6C" conventional bomber and "H-6E" nuclear bomber with improved countermeasures, the "H-6D" antiship missile carrier, and the "HY-6" series capable of acting as an in-flight fuel tanker. The H-6D was introduced in the early 1980s and carried a C-601 antishipping missile (NATO codename "Silkworm"), an air-launched derivative of the Soviet P-15 Termit ("Styx") under each wing. The H-6D featured various modernized systems and sports an enlarged radome with a Type 245 Kobalt I-band surveillance radar under the nose. The Type 245 radar was based on the Soviet PSBN-M-8 NATO codename Mushroom radar used on the Tupolev Tu-16. Earlier versions (Type 241, 242 and 244) were installed on the early models of the H-6. The H-6 has also been used as a tanker and drone launcher. Later H-6 production featured extended curved wingtips.[1]

Many H-6A and H-6C aircraft were updated in the 1990s to the "H-6F" configuration, the main improvement being a modern navigation system, with a Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite constellation receiver, Doppler navigation radar, and inertial navigation system. New production began in the 1990s as well, with Xian building the "H-6G", which is a director for ground-launched cruise missiles; the "H-6H", which carries two land-attack cruise missiles. In terms of land attack crui

Delivery of the Tu-16 to China began in 1958, and the Xi'an Aircraft Industrial Corporation (XAC) signed a licence production agreement with the USSR to build the type in the late 1950s. The first Chinese Tu-16, or "H-6" as it was designated in Chinese service, flew in 1959. Production was performed by the plant at Xi'an, with at least 150 built into the 1990s. China is estimated to currently operate around 120 of the aircraft.[3]

The latest version is the H-6N, a heavily redesigned version capable of aerial refueling and carrying air-launched cruise missiles. According to United States Department of Defense, this will give the PLAAF a long-range standoff offensive air capability with precision-guided munitions.[4][5]

The first domestically produced H-6 was completed in 1968[3] and evidence of bombing training was recorded by U.S. spy satellites on August 13, 1971.[3] By March of the following year, the CIA estimated that the PRC had 32 aircraft operational with an additional 19 awaiting completion.[3]

The H-6 was used to drop nine nuclear devices at the Lop Nur test site. However, with the increased development in ballistic missile technology, the nuclear delivery capabilities that the H-6 offered diminished in importance. The CIA estimated in 1976 that the H-6 had moved over to a dual nuclear/conventional bombing role.

Developed versions

PLANAF HY-6U with aerial refuelling pods (2018) "The most distinct difference between HY-6U and HY-6D is that HY-6U has a metal nose cone,while HY-6D still has the transparent glass nose"

Along with the H-6 free-fall bomber, an "H-6A" nuclear bomber was built, as well as an "H-6B" reconnaissance variant, "H-6C" conventional bomber and "H-6E" nuclear bomber with improved countermeasures, the "H-6D" antiship missile carrier, and the "HY-6" series capable of acting as an in-flight fuel tanker. The H-6D was introduced in the early 1980s and carried a C-601 antishipping missile (NATO codename "Silkworm"), an air-launched derivative of the Soviet P-15 Termit ("Styx") under each wing. The H-6D featured various modernized systems and sports an enlarged radome with a Type 245 Kobalt I-band surveillance radar under the nose. The Type 245 radar was based on the Soviet PSBN-M-8 NATO codename Mushroom radar used on the Tupolev Tu-16. Earlier versions (Type 241, 242 and 244) were installed on the early models of the H-6. The H-6 has also been used as a tanker and drone launcher. Later H-6 production featured extended curved wingtips.[1]

Many H-6A and H-6C aircraft were updated in the 1990s to the "H-6F" configuration, the main improvement being a mo

The H-6 was used to drop nine nuclear devices at the Lop Nur test site. However, with the increased development in ballistic missile technology, the nuclear delivery capabilities that the H-6 offered diminished in importance. The CIA estimated in 1976 that the H-6 had moved over to a dual nuclear/conventional bombing role.

Along with the H-6 free-fall bomber, an "H-6A" nuclear bomber was built, as well as an "H-6B" reconnaissance variant, "H-6C" conventional bomber and "H-6E" nuclear bomber with improved countermeasures, the "H-6D" antiship missile carrier, and the "HY-6" series capable of acting as an in-flight fuel tanker. The H-6D was introduced in the early 1980s and carried a C-601 antishipping missile (NATO codename "Silkworm"), an air-launched derivative of the Soviet P-15 Termit ("Styx") under each wing. The H-6D featured various modernized systems and sports an enlarged radome with a Type 245 Kobalt I-band surveillance radar under the nose. The Type 245 radar was based on the Soviet PSBN-M-8 NATO codename Mushroom radar used on the Tupolev Tu-16. Earlier versions (Type 241, 242 and 244) were installed on the early models of the H-6. The H-6 has also been used as a tanker and drone launcher. Later H-6 production featured extended curved wingtips.[1]

Many H-6A and H-6C aircraft were updated in the 1990s to the "H-6F" configuration, the main improvement being a modern navigation system, with a Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite constellation receiver, Doppler navigation radar, and inertial navigation system. New production began in the 1990s as well, with Xian building the "H-6G", which is a director for ground-launched cruise missiles; the "H-6H", which carries two land-attack cruise missiles. In terms of land attack cruise missiles five immediate possibilities were considered by PLAAF - the indigenous HN-1, HN-2 and HN-3, DH-10/CJ-10, and a variant of Russian designed cruise missile. It is believed CJ-10 is chosen to be the main land attack missile for H-6 bombers,[6] and now the "H-6M" cruise missile carrier, which has four pylons for improved cruise missiles and is fitted with a terrain-following system. Apparently these variants have no internal bomb capability, and most or all of their defensive armament has been deleted.

H-6K[Many H-6A and H-6C aircraft were updated in the 1990s to the "H-6F" configuration, the main improvement being a modern navigation system, with a Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite constellation receiver, Doppler navigation radar, and inertial navigation system. New production began in the 1990s as well, with Xian building the "H-6G", which is a director for ground-launched cruise missiles; the "H-6H", which carries two land-attack cruise missiles. In terms of land attack cruise missiles five immediate possibilities were considered by PLAAF - the indigenous HN-1, HN-2 and HN-3, DH-10/CJ-10, and a variant of Russian designed cruise missile. It is believed CJ-10 is chosen to be the main land attack missile for H-6 bombers,[6] and now the "H-6M" cruise missile carrier, which has four pylons for improved cruise missiles and is fitted with a terrain-following system. Apparently these variants have no internal bomb capability, and most or all of their defensive armament has been deleted.

The H-6K, first flying on January 5, 2007,[7] entered service in October 2009 during the celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the People's Republic of China,[8] and is claimed to make China the fourth country with a strategic bomber after US, Russia and the United Kingdom.[8][9] With a reinforced structure making use of composite materials,[9] enlarged engine inlets for Russian Soloviev D-30 turbofan engines giving a claimed combat radius of 3,500 kilometres (2,200 mi),[8] a glass cockpit with large size LCD multi-function display,[10] and a reworked nose section eliminating the glazed navigator's station in favour of a more powerful radar, the H-6K is a significantly more modern aircraft than earlier versions. Six underwing hardpoints for CJ-10A cruise missiles are added. The rear 23 mm guns and gunner position are replaced by electronic components.[10]

The H-6K is designed for long-range attacks and stand-off attacks. It is capable of attacking US carrier battle groups and priority targets in Asia. This aircraft has nuclear strike capability.The H-6K is designed for long-range attacks and stand-off attacks. It is capable of attacking US carrier battle groups and priority targets in Asia. This aircraft has nuclear strike capability.[11] While previous models had limited missile capacity (the H-6G could only carry two YJ-12 anti-ship missiles and the H-6M two KD-20/CJ-10K/CJ-20 land attack cruise missiles), the H-6K can carry up to six YJ-12 and 6-7 ALCMs; a single regiment of 18 H-6Ks fully loaded out with YJ-12s can saturate enemy ships with over 100 supersonic missiles. Although the aircraft has a new nose radome housing a modern air-to-ground radar, it is not clear if the bomber or other Chinese assets yet have the capability to collect accurate targeting information for successful strikes against point targets in areas beyond the first island chain.[12][13][14] An electro-optical targeting system is fitted under the nose.[15]

In January 2009, it was reported that an indigenous turbofan engine, the WS-18 (Soloviev D-30 copy), was under development for use in the H-6K.[16]

In 2015, about 15 H-6Ks were in service.[17]

A H-6K fitted with a refuelling probe may have first flown in December 2016. Besides extending range, a possible mission for the variant may be to launch satellites or ballistic missiles.[18]

Defense Intelligence Agency chief Ashley confirmed that China is developing two new air-launched ballistic missiles, (CH-AS-X-13)[19] one of which can carry a nuclear warhead.[20][21] The H-6K would be suited to launch such missiles.

In January 2019, Norinco announced it had tested an analogous of the American "Mother of all Bombs." The weapon is carried by an H-6K and takes up the whole of the bomb bay, making it roughly 5–6 m (16–20 ft) long and weighing 10 tons. Chinese media claimed it could be used for wiping out reinforced buildings and shelters as well as clearing obstacles to create an aircraft landing zone.[22][23]

China has repeatedly used H-6 aircraft to perform long-range drills near Japan, prompting the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force to scramble fighters.[24][25][26]

Variants

Data from Sinodefence.com[7]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 4
  • Length: 34.8 m (114 ft 2 in)
  • Wingspan: 33 m (108 ft 3 in)
  • Height: 10.36 m (34 ft 0 in)
  • Wing area: 165 m2 (1,780 sq ft)
  • Airfoil: root: PR-1-10S-9 (15.7%) ; tip: PR-1-10S-9 (12%)[40]
  • Empty weight: 37,200 kg (82,012 lb)
  • Max takeoff weight: 95,000 kg (209,439 lb)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Soloviev D-30kp2 turbojet engines, 118 kN (27,000 lbf) thrust each

Performance

  • Maximum speed: 1,050 km/h (650 mph, 570 kn)
  • Cruise speed: 768 km/h (477 mph, 415 kn) / 0.75M
  • Range: 6,000 km (3,700 mi, 3,200 nmi)
  • Combat range: 1,800 km (1,100 mi, 970 nmi)
  • Service ceiling: 12,800 m (42,000 ft)
  • Wing loading: 460 kg/m2 (94 lb/sq ft)
  • Thrust/weight: 0.24

Armament

  • Guns:
    • 2× 23 mm (0.906 in) Nudelman-Rikhter NR-23 cannons in remote dorsal turret
    • 2× NR-23 cannons in remote ventral turret
    • 2× NR-23 cannons in manned tail turret
    • 1× NR-23 cannons in nose (occasional addition)
  • Missiles:
  • Bombs: 12,000 kg (26,400 lb) of free-fall weapons

See also

Related development

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era

References

Notes
  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p "Reconnaissance & Special-Mission Tu-16s / Xian H-6". Air Vector. Archived from the original on 2017-04-22. Retrieved 2015-04-07.
  2. ^ Aviation Museum, Northwestern Polytechnical University. "馆藏飞机介绍:轰-6-航空学院". hangkong.nwpu.edu.cn. Archived from the original on 26 October 2018. Retrieved 26 October 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d Chinese Nuclear Forces and US Nuclear War Planning (PDF), The Federation of American Scientists & The Natural Resources Defense Council, 2006, pp. 93–4, archived (PDF) from the original on 2011-04-28, retrieved 2007-02-03.
  4. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2015-05-14. Retrieved 2015-06-08.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/china-shows-off-h-6n-hypersonics-and-gyrocopters-461186/
  6. ^ "H-6H Cuirse Missile Bomber PLAAF". AirForceWorld.com. Archived from the original on 3 March 2015. Retrieved 2 April 2011.
  7. ^ a b c "H-6 Medium Bomber". Sinodefence.com. 2005-11-26. Archived from the original on 2012-06-17. Retrieved 2007-01-16.
  8. ^ a b c Kashin, Vasiliy (2009-12-11). "Strategic Cruise Missile Carrier H-6K – A New Era for Chinese Air Force". Moscow Defense Brief. Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies. 4 (18). Archived from the original on December 29, 2009. Retrieved 2009-12-30.
  9. ^ a b Chang, Andrei (2007-11-08). "Analysis: China attains nuclear strategic strike capability". United Press International. Archived from the original on July 28, 2011. Retrieved 2009-12-30.
  10. ^ a b "H-6K Cruise Missile Bomber PLAAF". AirForceWorld.com. Archived from the original on 3 March 2011. Retrieved 5 April 2011.
  11. ^ ARG. "H-6K Long-Range Strategic Bomber - Military-Today.com". www.military-today.com. Archived from the original on 18 March 2018. Retrieved 8 March 2018.
  12. ^ Jeffrey Lin and P.W. Singer, "China Shows Off Its Deadly New Cruise Missiles" Archived 2016-

    General characteristics

    Performance

    • Maximum speed: 1,050 km/h (650 mph, 570 kn)
    • Cruise speed: 768 km/h (477 mph, 415 kn) / 0.75M
    • Range: 6,000 km (3,700 mi, 3,200 nmi)
    • Combat range: 1,800 km (1,100 mi, 970 nmi)
    • Service ceiling: 12,800 m (42,000 ft)
    • Wing loading: 460 kg/m2 (94 lb/sq ft)
    • Thrust/weight: 0.24

    Armament