▲The H6K of the Chinese People's Liberation Army Air Force, in flight over the Pacific


COMMENTARY / Ignacio Cristóbal Urbicain* [English version]

Only three countries in the world have strategic or long-range bombers (the US, Russia and China). The mission statement of this subject Weapons is to project the force at very long distances, usually within enemy airspace in order to destroy, with its significant armament load, strategic objectives, i.e. industry, infrastructure, logistics, etc. It is also an important deterrent.

In the case of China, its strategic aviation mainly has the latter mission statement with respect to the defence of their interests by projecting a threat to very distant distances, i.e. avoiding rapprochement and entrance of the U.S. Navy's battle groups (aircraft carriers and attack cruisers) to the South China Sea.

For this task, China has the Xian H-6. This aircraft is a derivation of the Russian Tupolev Tu-16 developed 60 years ago. In 2007, the Chinese modernized their H-6s by changing the old engines to reach a longer range (3,500 km). Again Russian engines were chosen, although there are sources who have said that a new Chinese engine (WS-18) is being developed. A general electronic modernization and the air-to-ground radar were also carried out. Their ability to pursue targets is unknown. The bomb bay was reduced to put another inner fuel tank and modified to house the Wayside Cross CJ-10 with a range of 2,200 km. In this way, the H-6K was created, much more modern than the previous version, which maintains the possibility of carrying nuclear weapons, as well as the YJ-12 supersonic anti-ship missiles.

A squadron of 15 of these aircraft (i.e., the issue that Jane's Defence thinks are in service) can fire around 100 missiles, creating a major problem for a number of naval with bad intentions. Note also that in recent weeks the H-6Ks have been seen for the first time with bombs on the outer wing mounts.

The future

In December 2016, sources in the Chinese Ministry of Defense confirmed the rumors about the development of a new long-range bomber. This new project it's probably sneaky (very leave It can be used to ensure that it has been able to load a large amount of conventional weaponry in an internal hold, which will improve stealth against enemy radars.    

The designation is currently H-X, although Jane's Defense already calls it H-20. It appears that the bomber will not have the capability to carry nuclear weapons, as China has a "no strike first" nuclear policy, meaning it will not be the one to start a conflict with nuclear weapons. For all these reasons, it has a nuclear arsenal linked to the idea that the country would survive a first attack and would be able torefund the coup.

The function of this new bomber will be to ensure that a force of American aircraft carriers with their group closer than it should to their areas of interest. These aircraft, carrying long-range air-to-surface missiles against such well-defended naval groupings, will be one of the three legs of Chinese deterrence. The other two are attack submarines and ballistic missiles.

Probably your design, commissioned to Xian Aircraft Corporation, is similar to the American B-2 bomber, following the Chinese tradition of practically copying Western models (the J-20 fighter is similar to the American F-22) and its first flight may be in 2025. Another question is when it will be operational, but seeing what the first flight of the J-20 has cost and its operability, it seems very distant in time. Hence the modernization of the H-6 discussed at the beginning of the article.

Fighter jets are very complex weapons systems and it is not enough for them to fly. They must do so with the characteristics for which they have been designed. In this case, China has historically been heavily dependent on Russian engines. Theirs have not worked as expected. Not to mention electronics, which in this field the U.S. still beats it by far.

*Teacher School of Economics and Business, University of Navarra

More blog entries

Publicador de contenidos

Carrera por los recursos espaciales: de la minería al control de rutas

▲ proposal of lunar base for obtaining helium, taken from [Christopher Barnatt]. GLOBAL AFFAIRS JOURNAL / Emili J. Blasco [8-page document.... ReadmoreAboutRace for space resources: from mining to route control "

Conexión eléctrica entre Ceuta y la Península: un asunto de seguridad energética y medioambiental

The routeing of a submarine cable for power transmission to Spain's place has been stalled since 2016 The project of electrical interconnection between Ceuta and the Peninsula, of the network Eléctrica... ReadmoreAboutElectrical interconnection between Ceuta and the Peninsula: a matter of energy and environmental security "

Ecuador desaprovecha su salida de la OPEP y pierde producción petrolera

The country left the cartel in order to expand its pumping, but the Covid-19 crisis has cut extraction volumes by 10.8%. Construction of a variant of the pipeline that crosses the... ReadmoreAboutEcuador misses out on OPEC exit and loses oil production "

Argentina ve en Vaca Muerta una tabla de salvación, pero falta más capital para su desarrollo

The hydrocarbon field is the central axis of the Gas 2020-2023 Plan of President Alberto Fernández, which subsidizes part of the investment Activity of YPF, Argentina's state-owned oil and gas... ReadmoreAboutArgentina sees Vaca Muerta as a lifeline, but more capital is needed for its development "

El gas natural licuado cambia el juego en el hemisferio americano

U.S. LNG sales to its neighbors and exports from Latin American and Caribbean countries to Europe and Asia open new perspectives Not to depend on gas pipelines, but to be able to buy or sell... ReadmoreAboutLiquefied natural gas is a game changer in the American hemisphere "

Could Spain partner up with Morocco in the field of solar energy?

The two countries are greatly exposed to solar radiation and they already share electricity interconnectors Spain was an early developer of solar energy, but it didn't keep the pace with the... ReadmoreAboutCould Spain partner up with Morocco in the field of solar energy? "

Surinam sigue a Guyana en el ‘milagro’ petrolero

The finding of a "significant" amount of oil in off-shore wells places the former Dutch colony in the footsteps of neighboring Guyana. The intuition has proved to be right and the... ReadmoreAboutSuriname follows Guyana in the oil 'miracle' "

Climate Refugees will raise, nations should find the way for shelter them

▲ Flood rescue in the Afghan village of Jalalabad, in 2010 [NATO]. ESSAY / Alejandro J. Alfonso In December of 2019, Madrid hosted the United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP25,... ReadmoreAboutClimate Refugees will raise, nations should find the way for shelter them "

La nueva guerra de precios petroleros

March and April 2020 will be remembered in the oil industry as the months in which the perfect storm occurred: a drop of more than 20% in global demand at the same time that the oil industry... ReadmoreAboutThe new oil price war "

Was the Madrid COP25 useful?

The UN Conference did little to increase international commitment to climate change action, but did at least boost the assertiveness of the EU In recent years, the temperature of the Earth has... ReadmoreAboutWas the Madrid COP25 useful? "

La minería ilegal, la otra destrucción de la Amazonía

Gold mining and oil transport pollute Amazonian rivers It is not only the fires that are negatively affecting the Amazon, which is undergoing an accelerated reduction of... ReadmoreAboutIllegal mining, the other destruction of the Amazon "

Centroamérica aprovecha sus volcanes para generación eléctrica

Geothermal energy already accounts for 7.5% of the Central American electricity mix, with installed capacity still far below the estimated potential. Volcanic activity and tectonic movement... ReadmoreAboutCentral America harnesses its volcanoes for power generation "

Jordan River Basin: Hydropolitics as an arena for regional cooperation

▲Satellite imagery of the Jordan River [NASA]. ANALYSIS / Marina Díaz Escudero Water is an essential natural resource, not only for individual survival on Earth, but also for nation-states... Read moreAboutJordan River Basin: Hydropolitics as an arena for regional cooperation "

Qué hará Bolivia con su gas natural cuando Brasil y Argentina ya no lo necesiten

The upcoming gas self-sufficiency of its two major gas-buying neighbors forces the Bolivian government to seek alternative markets Yacimientos Pretrolíferos Fiscales gas plant in... ReadmoreAboutWhat Bolivia will do with its natural gas when Brazil and Argentina no longer need it "

Blood diamonds keep going through Antwerp

The Belgian city, the world's capital of diamonds, has applied more regulations, sanctions and scrutiny on the industry, but still there are some bad practices ▲ The diamond industry has... ReadmoreAboutBlood diamonds keep going through Antwerp "

Cumbre del Clima 2018, un paso hacia adelante

The meeting COP24 made progress in regulating the Paris agreement , but "carbon markets" remained blocked. Mobilizations in favor of governments taking more drastic measures... ReadmoreAboutClimate Summit 2018, a step forward "

La nueva Guyana petrolera y su proyección internacional

One of the poorest countries in the Americas may become the world's largest oil producer per capita, disrupting the relationship with its neighbors. The promising oil discoveries... ReadmoreAboutThe new oil Guyana and its international projection "

Acuífero Guaraní: mejor que otros, pero pervivencia no asegurada

Geopolitical misgivings about perceived foreign interests should not distract beneficiary countries from implementing sustainable use. The Guarani Aquifer has given rise to a... ReadmoreAboutAquifer Guarani: better than others, but survival not assured "

El 'boom' de la quinoa

Global interest in this fashionable grain has brought additional income to Andean communities. The localization of quinoa production, especially in Peru and Bolivia (together they account for... ReadmoreAboutThe quinoa boom "

Impulso a la conexión gasística de los países de la Iniciativa de los Tres Mares

Poland-Germany struggle for influence in the European region between the Baltic, the Adriatic and the Black Sea The latest summit of the Three Seas Initiative (TMI) was attended by the... ReadmoreAboutBoosting the gas connection of the Three Seas Initiative countries "