A variant, the H-6D maritime bomber which carries the YJ-6(C-601) anti-ship missiles under its wings and is equipped with sea-searching radar under nose, began development in 1975 and made its first flight in 1981. The H-6D was a derivative of the H-6A. Two air-to-ship missiles were carried under the wing. A fire control system for missile aiming, an automatic navigation and bombing system, a missile heating system and a new radar, etc., were incorporated and some structures were strengthened.
The development task was formally assigned in 1975, the first flight of the prototype aircraft was successfully made on August 29, 1981 and all the telemetry missiles hit the targets in the air firing test on December 6 of the same year. After two years testing and training, an air firinging test with actual missiles was carried out at the end of 1983. Four missiles were fired and all hit the targets. The design of the H-6D was certified in December 1985.
The H-6D was a first generation air-to-ship missile carrier aircraft in China. Its flight tests showed that the selected retrofitting concept was correct, the airborne equipment integrated successfully and the aircraft's controllability, stability and' various flying parameters were in conformity with the design requirement. The successful development of the H-6D added a new weapon into the Chinese Navy air force's inventory.
The C-601 missile was cleared for carriage by the Xian H-6 bomber (H-6D version), the Chinese version of the Tu-16 'Badger', with two missiles carried on underwing pylons. The missile-carrying aircraft has a distinctive cylindrical chin radome housing the acquisition radar. The H-6D modified aircraft have a digital computer KS-6, and use the ZJ-6W aircraft fire-control unit for the C-601 missiles. C-601 is the export designator for the Chinese Ying Ji-6 (YJ-6) missile, based upon the former Soviet P-21, known as SS-N-2C 'Styx' by NATO surface-to-surface missile system. The C-601 is an air-launched version of the HY-2 coastal defence anti-ship missile (NATO designator CSSC-3 'Seersucker'). NATO gave the designator CAS-1 'Kraken' to the C-601 air-to-surface missile.
The aircraft is equipped with radar Type 245 in front of the radome under the fuselage and tracking of maritime targets. Radar is capable of identifying targets with an effective reflective area of ??7500 m2 to 150 km distance. For long-term maritime patrol it is equipped with improved avionics, involving a fire control system used for automatic navigation, automatic firing rockets and automatic bombing.
Improvements and modifications on the H-6D include:
- A pair of under-wing pylons for the for the YJ-61 anti-ship missiles
- An enlarged under-chin radome to house the HL-6D (Type 245) target acquisition/illumination radar
- ZJ-6 fire-control system (for the YJ-61 anti-ship missile)
- Environment control system for missile heating and radar cooling
- Type 773 Doppler navigation radar and automated inertial navigation system (INS)
- HM-3A optical bombing sight
- Enlarged engine air inlets
- Redesigned airframe structure and internal fuel tanks
- Removal of the forward 23mm cannon and nuclear weapon accomodations in the weapon bay
Four H-6 bombers, together with the C-601 air-to-surface antishipping missile, were sold to Iraq in the late 1980s
Jane's Strategic Weapon Systems of 2009 reported that "Some reports suggest that the Chinese started a development programme around 1977 to develop a long-range cruise missile family. The missiles were required to carry a nuclear warhead for up to 3,000 km range. Initial development work was probably based on a design known as X-600, which had a design range of 600 km. The X-600 is believed to have used an HY-2 (Silkworm type) body, either a C-601 (CAS-1 'Kraken') or a HY-4 (CSSC-7 'Sadsack'), with a turbojet engine attached on a pylon at the rear of the missile underbody. The turbojet may have been fixed on the pylon, or it may have been retracted during carried flight on the aircraft. Flight trials were made using a modified H-6D bomber (Tu-16 'Badger') with the test missiles carried inside the bomb bay or mounted on the underwing pylons."
By 2010 the PLA Navy deployed about 30 H-6D/H-6G (Tu-16 Badger-type) maritime bombers/reconnaissance aircraft; 3 KJ-2000AWACS aircraft based on the A-50 Mainstay/Il-76 airframe; perhaps 30 older H-5(Il-28 Beagle-type) maritime strike aircraft; 4 SH-5 amphibious ASW/multipurpose airplanes; and 3 Y-8X maritime patrol aircraft.
The H-6G was first revealed at the 2002 Zhuhai Airshow in an AVIC I promotional video. It is capable of carrying 4 YJ-83K AShMs under its wings. By 2010 the H-6G had entered service with PLA Naval Aviation, replacing the earlier H-6Ds. By that time Xian Aircraft had also begun test flying a new variant of the BADGER, designated H-6K. Redesigned to accommodate Russian DA-30 turbofan engines, the aircraft has six pylons for air-launched anti-ship missiles. If tests go well, the fuel economy of the DA-30 and greater reliability will likely result in the replacement of all H-6D aircraft.
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