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H-9 / H-20 - New Chinese Strategic Bomber

Chinese air force commander Ma Xiaotian on 01 September 2016 attended the Air Force Aviation Changchun opening event. When asked by reporters to future bomber development, carried out the following statement: "We now have long-range strike capability that has been greatly improved than in the past. In the future there will be greater improvements. We are now developing a new generation of long-range strike bomber - in the future you will see." The PLA Air Force has held for five consecutive years Air Force Aviation opening event in Changchun, because it is the birthplace of the PLA Air Force.

When it comes to the development of a new generation of long-range strike bomber, some think it is the H-6K. Some interpreted Ma Xiaotian to mean the weapons and equipment of the 2nd phase would see "a new generation of long-range strike bomber development in China" was the H-6 K. Of course, some may think, the Air Force commander did not say the H-6K, but suggestedthat China was developing long-range bombers more advanced than the H-6K. It is to the eyes of the wise beholder see the wisdom of the problem.

From the established practice of the Chinese military, commander Ma Xiaotian referred to public exposure of the H-6K, instead of the so-called future bomber. All along, the development of new information on Chinese military equipment has been open to the outside world through the Department of Defense and the military services spokesman. While some users may find it is not fun, but it is the most reasonable way to achieve China's current system of military transparency.

From the founding to the 1990s, China in fact did not require strategic bombers. At the beginning when New China was founded, the weak aviation industry could not support a strategic bomber. But the deeper reason was China's international strategic thinking and tactical and strategic bombing theories, which were incompatible with a Chinese strategic bombers. The real opportunity for development was Taiwan, and a direct result waa the H-6K.

The PLAAF continues to fly the obsolescent H-6 bomber, and as of around 2006 had resumed production of an upgraded variant. As of 2011 there were no confirmed bomber replacement development programs. Attempts to purchase the Tu-22M from Russia led nowhere, and it remains unclear what plane would replace H-6 bomber, and when.

According to some reports a new fighter/bomber project was started in 1995, following Russia's refusal to sell advance bombers to China, and at least a decade would be required for it to enter service. As of 2011 there had been no public reports concerning this program, which may be in abeyance. This H-9 was said to be similar to the American F-117 in terms of overall performance, and perhaps even physical configuration.

China's National Defense University military expert Wu Guohui in October 2013 said that large-scale bomber was once overlooked because they are considered low viability. However, the United States, Russia and China have noted the advantages of stealth bombers. They can implement nuclear attack, it can also launch long-range precision strike conventional weapons, and can be reused, so the ratio of surface to surface missiles can not be reused in a more cost-effective advantage.

"The United States decided to invest $ 1.2 billion per year, the development of second-generation remote stealth bomber Northrop Grumman B-2 bomber, based on their active duty bombers while Russia will be upgraded and the development of new stealth bomber," he He said, "China is still lagging behind in this area, so we should develop our own long-range bombers."

China "China Aviation News" reported a new designtion project had been approved. Media reports said the news source broke the news that this project is long-range bomber project, this project was proposed in the aircraft industry in 2008. In addition to the unconfirmed news, Chinese military enthusiasts were confirmed by official reports, support for China's top leaders are driving the Air Force bomber advanced development.

"The Air Force must accelerate the development of offensive capability, not as in the past only to emphasize defense." Chinese magazine "Aerospace Knowledge" Wang Yanan, deputy editor, said: "So the Air Force must be equipped with long-range strategic bombers, because without such weapons, we can not call it as a strategic service, it is impossible to truly offensive capability." But to develop specific what kind of strategic bombers, Chinese military experts view was not unanimous. Wang Yanan view that China should develop a strategic bomber similar to the Tu-160.

Chinese national English-language newspaper "China Daily" published a full-page article on 08 July 2015 by Zhao Lei, "China may be planning to develop long-range bombers." The article mentioned that at present China's medium-range bomber (H-6 series) is not sufficient to meet future Air Force as a "strategic arms" needs, China urgently needs long-range strategic bombers. AFP and other foreign media cited the content of the article was China's "manifesto" for development of a new generation of long-range bombers.

According to "Chinese Defense Weekly", at a recent military conference, the Chinese Air Force was designated as "strategic service". Previously only Second Artillery Corps was considered to be a strategic service. The officers attending the meeting of mentioned that the Chinese Air Force had the long-range strategic bombers as a priority development projects.

According to the definition of Chinese aviation, long-range strategic bombers should be able to carry more than 10 tons of weapons-ground, in the case of at least 8000 km without refueling in flight, with mission to attack enemy personnel and military installations, strategic bombers should be able to fly into enemy airspace, important targets such as military installations, military factories and cities and the like.

In addition, the Chinese magazine "Aviation Knowledge" reported on the development of new strategic bombers. The journal in June 2015 published a series of articles analyzing the performance of Chinese bombers and called on developing long-range stealth bomber, which means that the internal Chinese aviation industry had reached a consensus that China should immediately begin to design a long-range strategic bomber.

"Medium-range bomber was unable to overcome the deficiencies in the PLA Air Force strategic strike capability and strategic deterrence aspect ...... therefore a need for an air force really capable of penetrating enemy air defense systems intercontinental strategic bomber," an article said.

Chinese Air Force bombers currently used mainly Xi'an Aircraft Manufacturing Company, H-6 type, the aircraft was in the Soviet era developed on the basis of the Tu-16 "Badger". US Strategic Bombing Command currently has a Boeing B-52, Rockwell B-1 and Northrop's B-2 bomber, Russian long-range aviation company's headquarters has Tupolev Tu-160, Tu-95 and -22M bomber. According to Western aviation industry news sources, the aircraft industry has been using the latest avionics and new materials for the H-6 aircraft continued to upgrade, has developed a family of bomber perform various tasks, including aerial refueling tankers and reconnaissance aircraft. However, the aircraft airframe and engine design is outdated, making it unable to perform long-range bombing mission or broke into enemy airspace.

As for the H-6 bombers, one of the performance deficiencies, in March 2015, several aircraft H-6 bombers of the latest model H-6K series went to the Western Pacific embodiment exercises. "Despite the boom -6K equipped Russian D-30KP-2 engine, so that from a combat radius of 1800 km to 3500 km other models, but they still fly too slow." Military analyst Fang told China Daily "aircraft maximum flight speed of only 1050 km / h, it is easily the supersonic interceptor to intercept unless China sent a large number of fighter escort for it."

In order to ensure the implementation of long-range strike mission, China should now begin to develop an advanced bomber, flight speed is faster, and there is a strong penetration ability, he said.

Japanese Diplomat website on 13 July 2015 ran an article entitled "China would like to develop a new long-range strategic bombers". The article said, "China must develop a strategy to combat the new long-range bomber targets beyond the Pacific." This report also said the new bomber should be able to attack as far as the "second island chain" goal - the "second island chain" starting from the north of the four northern islands (Russia called Kuril Islands), after the Japanese mainland, Ogasawara Islands , Mariana Islands, Caroline Islands, until the south of Indonesia.

Chinese military aviation website that the new long-range strategic bomber design work began from the 1990s in China Aviation Academy 603 (Xi'an Aircraft Industry Company partners). It is said that the new bomber had flying wing design, similar to the US B-2 bomber, which was described Chinese military as a "strategic project." The site also noted that the aircraft parts had been produced. Chinese military aviation website stressed that: "It is believed that the H-20 can avoid modern air defense systems and in-depth enemy territory" Some analysts said that the primary task of the new bomber would attack US aircraft carrier strike group.

General Ma Xiaotian, commander of the PLA Air Force, said at a PLA Air Force Open Day event in Changchun that the PLA Air Force was developing a new-generation long-range bomber. THis statement drew close attention since it was the first time that a high-ranking Chinese military official confirmed China's long-range bomber project. But he didn't reveal the bomber's performance indicators or R&D status.

International media generally take H-6K as a medium-range and long-range strategic bomber, which they believe can reach the flying range of 8,000-9,000km when equipped with new engine and avionics system. Some Chinese websites said that China's long-range strategic bomber "can make around-the-globe flight with 30-ton bomb load".

The Chinese leaders define the PLA Air Force as strategic air force, for which developing the long-range strategic bomber is a necessary step. How to define this bomber then? At present only the U.S. and Russia have long-range strategic bombers, the former having B-52, B-1B and B-2 and the latter Tu-160 and Tu-95, and only China and Russia have medium-range strategic bombers, the former having H-6 series and the latter Tu-22M.

Liu Yang, a reporter from Global Times, interviewed Fu Qianshao, an expert from the PLA Air Force, on 04 September 2016 about the performance requirements, technical solutions and other hot topics about this significant weapon. Fu Qianshao introduced to Global Times on September 4 that there are two types of bombers - tactical and strategic, the latter including medium-range and long-range ones.

According to Fu, no bomber today can fly around the globe without air refueling. The flying range of medium-range bomber is more than 6,000km and that of long-range ones is twice that long, about 12,000km with a bomb load of 20-30 tons. What is the technical solution for China's new-generation bomber then? Fu Qianshao held that based on China's current overall technical preparation, its long-range bomber may have four engines, and the engine to be used would probably be the turbofan-10 that's already applied in fighter jets, but there are two versions of turbofan-10, one with thrust augmentation and one without.

Therefore, three technical solutions may be created according to different performance requirements. The first solution stresses stealth performance instead of supersonic defense penetration, for which the Liming WS10A Taihang engine without thrust augmentation may be adopted. The second solution stresses supersonic defense penetration, for which WS10A Taihang with thrust augmentation may be adopted. And the third solution is the combination of the previous two, "which is possible because we have technical preparations in all relevant fields".

Wang Yanan, a Chinese aviation expert, said that China should develop a strategic bomber similar to Tu-160. "Our new bomber should be capable of supersonic performance like Tu-160, but it should adopt fixed wing rather than variable sweep aerofoil because the latter is too complicated and isn't very useful in modern air combat." He added, "I don't think we need a flying-wing bomber like B-2 because its development is a challenge for China, both technologically and economically. Why do we have to invest an astronomical amount of resources in developing the Chinese version of B-2, just for its good looks or the questionable stealth performance?

According to Fu Qianshao, which technical solution to use and which performance to highlight eventually depend on military considerations. Whichever technical indicator China decides to prioritize, it has the technical preparation for it, although the solution that combines supersonic and stealth performance is doubtlessly the most difficult, Fu said.

Fu said that in the past, Chinese bombers were considered 50 years inferior to those developed by western powers, but that referred to the early types of H-6, not the upgraded H-6K. Once China's new-generation long-range bomber is successfully developed, it can bring China to the same high level as world military powers, even obtaining late-mover advantages in certain indicators as, after all, America's latest stealth bomber B-2 that's currently in service was developed many years ago.

In addition, another huge advantage China has is that it has an excellent R&D team, the experts in which have been developing all types of military aircraft in the past few decades. Some analyst said that according to the tradition of Chinese military, public confirmation of an equipment project means that project has been in progress for some time and some results have been achieved.

Fu believed the long-range bomber project has been established and under way for quite some time now, but he said nothing about its progress. He stressed that the development of long-range bomber doesn't mean existing bombers are completely out of date, and it's highly possible that two types of strategic bombers would serve in the PLA Air Force side by side.

The US, for example, has B-2, but B-52, which is a veteran now, is still the most widely and frequently used bomber. In the future, the old and new strategic bombers can carry out different missions. While H-6K can reach surrounding countries if anything happens, long-range bomber would be able to fly farther to demonstrate China's resolve and would to defend its national sovereignty and maritime rights and interests.

According to one Chinse account, the Chinese Air Force would be equipped with two types of future new bomber, one is a large load of bombs, the traditional aerodynamic layout bomber - H-8; the other would have high altitude (more than 3 times supersonic cruise capability) capability, a modest payload with a breakthrough beyond bombers of traditional aerodynamic layout - the H-9. The following description may be little more than fanboy wishful thinking, but it does illlustrate Chinese wishful thinking.

China's H-9 Air Force high altitude bombers would fly at an altitude 36,000 meters and a maximum speed of 3.7 times the speed of sound, which is called "double three." The H-9 must therefore fly higher than the majority of existing fighter jets and air defense missiles, and fly faster, so it can fly in and out of the enemy airspace unhindered. Thus in the future there would not be any substantial threat over Taiwan Strait from a "hail of bullets". When bombing over Taiwan, Taiwan F16 could launched AIM-9 "Sidewinder", AIM-120 air to air missiles, but these missile would fly slower than the H-9.

The H-9 would be China's first successful breakthrough "thermal barrier" in practical jet bombing aircraft. "Thermal barrier" refers to the speed of the aircraft is coming to a certain extent, a lot of heat generated by friction with the air, threatening aircraft structural safety. To this end the use of low body weight, high strength titanium alloy as a structural material (titanium reserves in China accounted for more than 60% of the world, Chinese titanium more); and other important parts of the wing used to adapt the design of thermal expansion, because the H-9 at the time of high-speed flight, the length of the body because of thermal expansion and elongation of more than 40 cm; tank piping design cleverly uses scalable resilient housing, and the use of oil flow to remove heat hot site. Despite the use of a number of measures, but H-9 after falling to the ground, the tank would still occur because of thermal expansion and contraction of the body a certain degree of leakage. The H-9 after takeoff necessary, after climbing to cruising altitude can also use aerial refueling.

The H-9 starts at the beginning of the development of the Chinese Air Force equipment research and development department and XAC and a "sky plan" study begun in the Shanghai Aerospace Bureau (8th Institute). The H-9 would possibly install four engines (two originally planned, to reach four times the speed of sound and to adapt to high altitude cruise to the requirements of the Air Force. The aerodynamic layout design would have corresponding improvements. The program's "critical" actor is Shanghai Space Agency (8th Institute), a laboratory for axial flow engine engine development. This model would be the engine with afterburner after a single maximum thrust of 18,760 kN. The front end of the engine intake has a freely adjustable shock cone to adapt to different requirements of different speeds.




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