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H-8 - First Instance

There is very little open information on efforts to develop a successor to the H-6. China began work on a new generation long-range bomber in the early 1970s. In the search for a faster bomber that could carry a heavier load, Xian tested an H-6 re-engined with four Rolls-Royce Spey Mk512-5W turbofan engines - two in the wing roots, which necessitated smaller intakes than the stock H-6 engines used, as well as two more engines on pylons on the wings.

The fuel-efficient Rolls-Royce Spey Mk-512 turbofans were originally used on the Trident 2E civil aircraft. The Trident was one of the first jet-powered civilian transports acquired by the PLAAF. The order included an agreement to produce the Spey engines under license, and these license-produced engines were subsequently used on the JH-7 military aircraft.

The resulting H-6I made its first flight in 1978, though no photographs of this aircraft have emerged. The H-6I flight testing demonstrated an approximately 50% increase in range over the standard H-6 with significant improvements in speed and climb rate. However, the project was canceled with only a single example built as the costs of maintaining and operating the Spey engines proved uneconomical. Plans to modify the entire H-6 fleet were not implemented.

In the early 1980s the Xian H-6M (first use of the designation- the current H-6M is less radical maritime attack version of the H-6) re-did the wings of the bomber to accommodate four high-bypass ratio turbofan engines roughly in the low end of the CFM56 class. It never made it off the drawing board. The fuselage was also slightly stretched and the aft fuselage sighting stations were deleted. This initial effort reportedly featured four Rolls-Royce Spey turbofans under the wings, and a fuselage generally resembling an enlarged H-6/Tu-16 Badger. The resulting bomber was said to be comparable in general performance to the American B-47. This performance was evidently unattractive, and the Chinese government cancelled the program before it moved out of the concept stage.

In the 1980s the Xian H-8II design took the H-6M, stretched it, enlarged the fin, added a new attack radar in the nose and stretched the wings to accommodate six turbofan engines. It never made it off the drawing board. Internet sources have offered pictures of what is referred to as the H-8.

H-8 Bomber Concept

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