New Chinese Bomber Really da Bomb?

(Image courtesy Wikipedia Commons)

(Image courtesy Wikipedia Commons)

China is touting the new abilities of its newish H-6K long-range bomber:

“The fact that our H-6K bombers have performed several long-distance drills far into the Pacific Ocean indicates that the H-6K fleet has become capable of conducting various operations such as long-range precision strikes,” Fu Qianshao, a PLAAF aviation equipment expert, told the state-run newspaper.

Without refueling, the maximum range of the H-6K bomber is 1,900 miles; however, it can be extended to 3,100 miles with two mid-air refuels, according to War is Boring, while carrying a payload of up to 12 tons. There are currently around 36 H-6K strategic bombers in service with the PLAAF.

“In the past, our bombers could only deliver airdropped bombs and so were unable to conduct precision attacks, but the H-6K, with the adoption of some of our most advanced aeronautic technologies, is able to carry and launch air-to-surface cruise missiles and anti-ship missiles, which means it can take out multiple targets on the ground or at sea within one mission,” Fu stated.

The H-6 is a Chinese copy of the Soviet Tupolev Tu-16, which was first introduced in 1954 and retired from service more than two decades ago. Look at the Tu-16 closely, and you’ll see shades of WWII’s B-29 Superfortress, from which the Tu-16’s immediate predecessor was reverse-engineered.

The H-6K variant has been upgraded with better electronics and more powerful engines — a Chinese copy of the D-30 engine the Soviets developed while I was in grade school.

Russian engines are typically heavier, less powerful, and less reliable than their Western counterparts, and the Chinese copies tend to be worse than the Russian originals.

So… go on and sleep soundly tonight.