PLA-AF recently received 15 H-6K bombers with nuclear capabilities, according to British military digest Jane’s Defence Weekly.
The H-6K, an updated version of the H-6 bomber, is a medium-sized craft designed for long-range attacks, stand-off attacks and large-area air patrol.
Unlike its predecessor, the H-6K can carry cruise missiles under its wings.
The H6-K also maneuvers more deftly than the H-6 and requires a smaller crew to operate.
Jane’s Defence was the first media outlet to confirm that the H6-K had formally entered active service.
The most visible departure from the H-6 is the H6-K’s nose, where a nose randome has replaced a navigation cabin. Military expert Fu Qianshao said that the H6-K’s nose should greatly improve avionics, search and detection, navigation, fire control and weapon precision.
Fu said that the H-6K has a larger engine inlet than does the H-6, which may mean that the newer bomber’s engines have greater thrust. If so, the H-6K would also have a greater maximum takeoff weight and payload than the H-6.
A more favorable weight-to-thrust ratio would improve fuel efficiency and lengthen cruising range, Fu said.
H-6K reportedly has a combat radius of 3,500 KM. The nuclear-capable Changjian (long sword)-10 cruise missiles it carries have a range of 1,500-2,000 KM, effectively extending the bomber’s combat range to 4,000-5,000 KM - long enough to reach Okinawa, Guam and even Hawaii from China’s mainland.
Analysts stipulated that PLA Air Force missiles be able to reach Taiwan, southwestern Japan and Guam, a range of control that requires a 3,000-KM combat radius and powerful attack capability. Only the combined combat radius of the H6-K and Changjian-10 currently satisfy the length requirement.
(Source : Military Online)