Air China adopted a new heavy bomber H-6K. This news may seem sensational and Russians enthusiastically followed the development of modern military aviation. After all, they know very well the origin of the aircraft.
H-6K is the latest in the series today, a modification of H-6 bomber - a licensed copy of our famous former Tu-16, created by Tupolev Design Bureau in the late 40s - early 50s.
So, what is the H-6K and that it is the remains of the Soviet development, in addition to the characteristic appearance?
XianHong-6K («Hung Hsien-6K» - this is the full designation of the bomber in Chinese) - a subsonic combat aircraft with long range cruise missiles. Improving the performance of the machine is achieved mainly through the use of Soviet / Russian Technologies of 70-80s, which made it possible to considerably enlarge the possibilities of previous Tu-16. In the West, after learning about the new Chinese bomber, they appropriated to it the same designation as to predecessors, “badger”.
The most notable changes undergone is in aircraft propulsion system, its avionics and weapons. It received a D-30KP engine, similar to those which until recently were equipped with the Il-76 airliners, the Tu-154 and several others.Using the new engine instead of the previous versions WP-8 (a copy of the engine AM-3) coupled with increased volumes of fuel tanks allowed to increase the range of machines - from 1800-2000 to more than three thousand miles, despite the deployment of cruise missiles under the wing (ALCM). The plane has a more powerful radar - radar radome took almost the entire front of the fuselage, resulting in H-6K losing its characteristic of earlier versions of the Tu-16 namely "glass nose", and has six ALCM CJ-10A on individual hardpoints - three on each side. The internal bomb bay is now gone, and the released amounts of housing are part of the increased fuel and equipment of electronic warfare (EW).
In contrast to the row of the previous models; H -6k it is not altered from the old aircraft during the modernization, built is produced from a scratch. Taking into account the lifetime of today's heavy machinery, H-6K has the potential to remain in service until 2052, when the hundredth anniversary of the first flight of the Tu-16 will occur.
The reasons for such enviable longevity of subsonic bombers are obvious.In the Soviet Union and the United States in the early 50s were created very successful and durable construction, the improvement which went mainly due to the development of electronics and the emergence of more modern weapons systems. With the following models - created at the turn of the 50-60s supersonic bombers such as B-58 or Tu-22 left the scene much earlier than their subsonic "big brothers", which in theory would have to be replaced by their supersonic counterparts. Reasons were concealed in far high cost of operation and not very high reliability of the first supersonic bombers. Airframe/costs of these machines sharply limited the possibilities of different designations of these machines. Subsonic aircraft - especially Tu-16 and Tu-95 were multiplied in tens of versions, after becoming “jacks-of-all-trades”.
The missile plot
Tu-16 Air Force and naval aviation of the Soviet Navy were equipped with various missile and bomb armament, but were never used as carriers for strategic cruise missiles - these expensive "toys" remained the exclusive possession of the Tu-95 and Tu-160. However, the H-6K has just such ALCM: CJ-10A, copied from the Soviet / Russian X-55.
It is not known whether CJ-10A is able to perform low-altitude flight in ground mapping or terrain hugging modes, and just as no one knows what its real accuracy - circular error probable.
The origin of the missile itself isn’t clear. Its relationship with the X-55 is not in doubt, but so far no one knows whether the establishment of ALCM was successful intelligence in China, managed to steal some of the documentation on the X-55 and play the Russian product, or got hold of some missiles from Ukraine. Recall that before the collapse of the Soviet Union major manufacturer of X-55 was the Kharkov Aviation Production Association.
Regardless of the real possibilities of CJ-10 in terms of flight at low altitude and hit accuracy, it can be stated that with the H-6K China gained full "long arm" that could attack important installations, without going into a zone defense. Flight range of H-6K does not allow these machines to attack targets located, for example, in the U.S., but they may be used against U.S. surface warships, including aircraft-carrier groups, as well as some overseas bases the Pentagon.
Thus, the strategic cruise missile construction confirms the claims of the Middle Kingdom to dominate the Asia-Pacific region, the weight of which will only increase with the advent of the other elements of modern armed forces, including its own aircraft carrier, nuclear submarines and long-term.
Today, the creation of fundamentally new machine, especially in this segment as a strategic air force, costs so expensive and takes a time that the modernization of the aircraft almost the age of sixty is the best solution in terms of the criterion of "cost-effectiveness."
In this case embodied in the life of the project facilitated by the fact that for a carrier of long-range cruise missile flight characteristics are not as important as for a fighter, and having finished a reliable platform allowed the Chinese to do a little blood.