Friday, January 2, 2009

H-6K: China is continuously improving H-6 for Air-Striking Platform

In September, a screenshot of XAC (Xi’an Aircraft Corporation) internal CATV news showed that China is producing a newest variant of H-6 bomber family to satisfy PLA Air Force’s demands of long range strategic bombing and air striking.

This variant is called as H-6K in PLA Air force. Letter “K” represents the “Air Striking Platform” (Chinese Pinyin: Kongzhong-daji-pingtai). The distinguished improvements include: new 6 under wing Hardpoints, more powerful engine, round glass-in nose replaced by radar radome (new PD radar inside), Datalink Device and Infrared recognition Pod under aircraft nose.

The new H-6K has 6 under-wing pylons to carry China’s 3000 km land-attack cruise missile. With imported Russian D-30 engines, H-6K can patrol in the air defense circle in China inner mainland for longer lime and use long-range cruise missile to attack U.S.’s Bases located in Guam. Certainly, XAC modified H-6 fuselage to contain larger turbofan engines.

Besides, H-6K also has ability to fire YJ-12 anti-ship missile at stand-off ranges to attack U.S. Aircraft Carrier Groups in west pacific. Noticeably, PLA’s H-6K can carry 6-8 ultra-long-range Air-to-Air missiles to hunt enemy’s Airborne Early Warning systems, like E-2 and E-3.

The glass-in nose is replaced by a lightning-proof radar radome so H-6K has a re-designed aircraft nose. Inside the radar radome, H-6K equipped with a powerful PD radar, which integrates navigation, terrain following and aiming for launching missiles. And H-6K has an upgraded cockpit than before and incorporates a more advanced avionics integrated with power, flight and fire control.

On the H-6K’s back near cockpit, XAC installs 2-3 blade antennas, which are probably are parts for datalink system for launching ultra-long-range Air-to-Air missile, called as “ShaShoujian” weapon in PLA. Via Datalink, H-6K can receive object information from KJ-2000 AWACS and silently fire AA missiles to attack Air Boren Early-Warning Systems.

Strangely, H-6K has an Electro-optical detecting pod to replace former cylindrical radome under the nose. The device is eventually some kind of forward looking infrared system for navigation and recognition and weapons delivery. Another choice is that H-6K will use forward looking infrared system for anti-submarine warfare.

Named with “Air Striking Platform”, H-6K can use its bomb capacity advantage to carry PLA’s air launched torpedo for detecting and destroying underwater submarines in Chinese East Sea and South Sea areas. And H-6K can also share its information with PLA Navy’s Ka-28 and Z-9 helicopters in fleet anti-submarine warfare.

Since lots of design modifications and imported power plant, the production is in a very low speed on 2-3 H-6K in one year. According to resources, XAC has produced 2 H-6K for PLA’s evaluation and testing. Although basing on a 40-year-old design, H-6K is still a remarkable platform for its multi-performance in modern warfare when PLA adding new technologies on it.

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