H-6K - Payload
A new variant of China's H-6K bomber, which experts said on Wednesday is more powerful than the original version, was spotted in the second joint aerial strategic patrol by the air forces of China and Russia on 22 December 2020. The previously known H-6K bomber only has six wing pylons, three on each wing, but the H-6K photographed by the Japan Air Self-Defense Force had more pylons.
The H-6K with eight pylons could be an improved variant of the original version. The two pylons near the tips of the wings could be used to carry pods for electronic countermeasures, which will make significant contributions to the bomber's survivability in modern warfare. Another possibility is that the new H-6K could carry eight long-range air-to-ground weapons, meaning stronger firepower than the previous six.
The latest H-6K variant is not the first H-6 bomber to have eight wing pylons, as the H-6J, operated by the PLA Navy, and made its first public debut in July 2020 in drills in the South China Sea, also has eight. The PLA Navy's H-6J opted to equip two electronic warfare pods on the wing tip pylons, leaving the other six for anti-ship missiles.
The original H-6K wing could carry 6 air-launched cruise missiles. The original bomb bay may have also been modified. If the air-to-surface missiles similar to the YJ-83 series are mounted, due to their small size and weight, it is possible to achieve a body bomb. The cabin is mounted (it is said that the guidance method adopted by our country’s YJ-83 missile is inertial guidance + GPS guidance + radio guidance, and similar guidance methods are expected to be adopted for the air-to-ground version). Therefore, foreign sources claim that the maximum load of 6K missiles may be seven. The bomb bay of the H6K is unlikely to use a rotating pylon. On the one hand, China did not have such a design before, and the technology may not be mature; on the other hand, the H6 has a slim and narrow fuselage, and it is difficult to install a rotating pylon in the bomb bay.
With the increase in engine thrust, the bomb load of the H6K must have increased. This is unquestionable, but it is difficult to draw conclusions about how much it has reached. Foreign speculations that its ammunition capacity will reach 15-20 tons, perhaps too optimistic. On the premise that the aerodynamic shape remains unchanged, it is not that the thrust increases and the bomb load can be infinitely increased, but it is still affected by the original aerodynamic design. If the take-off weight increases too much, the angle of attack will increase to a certain extent and it will be difficult to meet the requirements of the cruise flight status. The take-off weight reduced through various measures is obviously more meaningful for this kind of missile carrier to increase the range than to hang a few more ordinary bombs.
If the H-6K is only used as a missile launch platform, six missile pylons under the wing are sufficient, and each pylon can carry 3 tons of payload. China’s current air-launched cruise missile is the heaviest YJ-63, which is an improvement on the basis of the C-601 air-to-ship missile. The C-601 uses a liquid rocket engine and weighs 2,440 kg. The YJ-63 uses a small turbojet engine. Since it does not require an oxidizer, the weight can be greatly reduced, possibly within 2 tons. The H-6M does not have an engine, and can carry 4 missiles of this type under the wings. The H6K is equipped with a new type of engine. If it can mount six, its maximum bomb load may reach about 12 tons. At the Zhuhai Air Show in November 2006, China exhibited the export-oriented C-602 cruise missile. Due to restrictions on missile exports, the missile has a range of only 280 kilometers. It is said that the range of its domestic air-launched model may reach 1500-2000 kilometers. This model is very close to the size and weight of the American "Tomahawk" BlockIV. Considering that there is still a gap in the level of Chinese electronic technology, its weight is about 1,300 kg.
From the positioning of the H6K, it may be too dangerous to let it perform the task of throwing a free-fall bomb. After all, the aerodynamic layout of the H6K has not changed, and its penetration capability is still not strong. However, it is obviously too extravagant that a strategic bomber can only perform strategic strike missions. The most likely possibility is that when free-falling bombs (including guided bombs) are not carried, the internal bomb bay can carry additional fuel tanks to increase the range. This approach It is very common internationally. Several domestically developed guided bombs were exhibited at the 2006 Zhuhai Air Show. Equipping with these guided bombs will greatly improve the conventional strike capability of the H6K. With complete control of the air and electromagnetic power, the aircraft's strike cost and effectiveness ratio will be higher than other fighter-bombers. It should be pointed out that carrying guided bombs will not have dozens of them like ordinary free-falling bombs. The number of guided bombs carried in the internal bomb bay of the H6K can fully meet the tactical requirements. This mounting method greatly reduces the flight resistance and is also conducive to improving speed and range.
China’s air strike weapons have achieved remarkable results in recent years. In particular, the successful development of precision guided bombs and cruise missiles has enabled the H-6K to perform precision strikes on fixed targets. If the Chinese guided bombs don't sound, it is a blockbuster. Before the 2006 Zhuhai Air Show, China did not release more information about guided bombs except for the "Leishi"-6 (LS-6) guided glide bomb. But at this air show, in addition to LS-63b, China exhibited "Thunder"-2, "Feiteng"-1 and "Feiteng"-3 guided bombs. These guided bombs will greatly enhance the Chinese air force and naval aviation forces to attack land. The ability to fix targets and naval targets. According to foreign news reports, the H-6K can carry 14-20 500-kg guided bombs, with a strike capability 3 to 5 times that of the "Flying Leopard" fighter-bomber.
As early as the beginning of the 21st century, authoritative media reported the news of the successful development of China's cruise missiles, but it was only a few crosses without revealing more details. In fact, the positioning of the H6K can in turn verify that the Chinese cruise missile has already reached a practical state. The successful launch of Pakistan’s “Hataf”-7 land-launched cruise missile in 2006 and the public display of the C-602 cruise missile at the 2006 Zhuhai Air Show can also prove the success of China’s air-launched cruise missile. In the West, this aspect is no longer news. Because the cruise missile uses terrain matching and terminal guidance (such as GPS), its hit accuracy can be. Reaching the meter level is of great significance for "beheading" operations, targeted clearance, and high-value Japanese standard strikes.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|