Warplanes: China's Kind Of New Heavy Bomber

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May 11, 2011: The latest version of the Chinese H-6 bomber, the H-6K, has entered service. It's been in development for several years. This model has more efficient Russian engines (D-30KP2) that give it a range of over 3,000 kilometers. Electronics are state-of-the-art and include a more powerful radar. The fuselage of the bomber has been reinforced with lighter, stronger, composite materials. The rear facing 23mm autocannon has been replaced with electronic warfare equipment. The H-6K can carry six, two ton, CJ-10A land-attack cruise missiles. These appear to have a range of about 2,000 kilometers as they are similar to the older Russian Kh-55 (that was armed with a nuclear warhead). The CJ-10A is sometimes described as a high-speed (2,500 kilometers an hour), solid fuel missile. But these are short range (about 300 kilometers) systems. The CJ-10A appears more of a copy of the American Tomahawk (using a much slower jet engine).

There are about 120 H-6s in service (out of about 200 built). These are a Chinese copies of the Russian Tu-16s (about 1,500 built). Although the Tu-16 design is over fifty years old, China has continued to rely on their H-6s as one of their principal bombers. The H-6 is a 78 ton aircraft with a crew of four, a 6,000 kilometer range and two engines. Most models can carry nine tons of bombs and missiles, with the new H-6K able to haul about 12 tons. This aircraft is used to carry the CJ-10A and C201 missiles, as well as bombs. It does not appear that China is building a lot of H-6Ks, perhaps no more than twenty. The Russians kept their Tu-16s in service until the early 1990s, but China kept improving their H-6 copy. Thus the H-6K is a capable heavy bomber.

 


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