H-6K uses a 'glass' cockpit with five or more multifunction displays (MFDs)
On 17 February a visit by Chinese Communist Party and People's Liberation Army (PLA) leader Xi Jinping to a bomber unit of the PLA Air Force (PLAAF) revealed new details of its latest Xian Aircraft Corporation (XAC) H-6K bomber.
As did his predecessors, Xi makes frequent visits to PLA units that are well covered by the Chinese media to stress the Party's control over the PLA. This visit occurred on the eve of the official Chinese New Year.
Xi visited a bomber unit outside the city of Xi'an operating three variants of the H-6 that have been in production since the late 1990s. They included the H-6H, which entered service in the late 1990s and is armed with two optically guided YJ-63/KD-63 land-attack cruise missiles (LACMs).
Also seen was the H-6M, which entered service in 2007 equipped with four wing pylons plus new electronic warfare and missile approach warning systems. The H-6M is armed with two KD-20/K-AKD-20 1,500-2,500 km range LACMs.
The H-6K now serves in at least two PLAAF bomber regiments. (Chinese internet)
Most noteworthy, however, was Chinese media coverage of Xi's cockpit tour, which for the first time provided a wide view of the cockpit of the most recent H-6K variant. This confirmed that the H-6K uses a 'glass' cockpit with five or more multifunction displays (MFDs) and is the first H-6 to use ejection seats for its three or four crew members.
Making Xi's visit easier was the H-6K's first use of a stair-accessible side-entry door.
Emerging in prototype form in 2007, the H-6K is the most radically modified variant, replacing its glass nose with a large solid nose housing a large radar and new electro-optical targeting pod. Its use of two Russian-made 12-ton thrust D-30-KP2 turbofans and lighter-weight composites have reportedly extended its range by 30% to a combat radius of 3,500 km.
The H-6K carries six KD-20 LACMs on wing pylons plus one or more in its bomb bay. It can also carry a wide range of new precision-guided munitions available from four Chinese weapon manufacturers.
The nearly decade-old H-6M has only recently been seen armed with the KD-20 1,500-2,500 km range LACM. (Chinese internet)
Xi Jinping visit reveals H-6 bomber details - IHS Jane's 360