A PLAAF JH-7A was photographed while it was approaching for landing. The first batch of JH-7A entered the service with PLAAF (S/N 30x9x, 62x6x, 64x2x, 31x9x, 72x1x, 78x6x, 73x7x) in late 2004. Unlike the naval JH-7A (S/N 83x9x, 82x5x, 82x7x) which first entered the service earlier in 2004, it wears a medium-blue color scheme and has the serial number painted under the side of cockpit. First revealed as a full-scale mockup, this improved variant of JH-7 was seen carrying a full range of air-to-air and air-to-surface weapon load, reflecting its enhanced capability of launching precision strikes using anti-radiation missiles and LGBs. The precision strike capability is believed to be a major requirement JH-7A has to meet in order to attract orders from PLAAF. This capability is thought to be achieved by the JL-10A/AG (K/LKK10?) multi-mode PD radar integrated into a new fire-control system, plus an improved "stabilizing" system (analog FBW) giving the aircraft a true terrain-following capability. The aircraft also features a one-piece windshield and a tandem glass cockpit (front/rear) and HOTAS. It also has new wings and horizontal stabilizers made of composite materials and have the 1950 style wing fences removed. As the result, a few hundred kilograms of weight has been eliminated. The engines are the indigenous WS-9 Qinling turbofans (certified in July 2003) replacing the original R&R Spey MK202s. The aircraft has a total of 11 hardpoints, 6 underwing, 2 wingtip, 2 under the engine intakes and 1 under the fuselage. Currently PLAAF JH-7As are equipped with PL-8 AAM, JG-500 & JG-500B LGB, KD-88/KD-88A TV/IIR guided ASM and YJ-91 ARM. A datalink pod can be carried underneath the engine intake for KD-88 ASM. Similarly a laser designation pod (K/JDC01) can be carried to paint targets for LS-500J LGBs. The naval JH-7A can also carry two large ECM pods similar to those being carried by JH-7. In addition to ECM missions, the aircraft can also fly ELINT/SIGINT missions carrying two receiver pods. It can also drop 250kg aerial mines (MKC-03-500?) as well. 5 prototypes were built (#811-815), with the first JH-7A prototype taking off on July 1, 2002. Since 2009 most JH-7As have been upgraded with a new UHF/VHF antenna behind the cockpit. In 2014JH-7A started to carry KL700A ECM pod (KG600) for self-defence. An image released in November 2016 suggested that the aircraft (JH-7AII?) started to the bigger and more powerfulKG800 ECM pod, which can provide the electronic protection for the attacking formation. Its export version is called JH-7E but is unlikely to attractany foreign customer due to its obsolete design.JH-7A's production was believed to have ended in 2016. It is expected to be replaced by J-16 (see below). A recent image (August 2020) indicated that some PLAAF JH-7As started to carry the serial numbers on the vertical fins. The latest video (May 2021) indicated that one PLAN JH-7A started to carry a 2-digit low visibility serial number.
- Last Updated 6/1/21
H-6G (H/JH6G?) was first "leaked" in a promotional video by AVIC I at the 2002 Zhuhai Airshow. This variant is capable of carrying 4 YJ-83K AShMs under its wings, the same type being carried by the JH-7/7A strike aircraft. However H-6G has a considerably longer range (~6,000km) than JH-7/7A but at a lower speed. Other improvements include MAWS sensors on both sides of the nose and tailcone, RWR antennas on top of the tailcone (facing backward) and the vertical fin (facing forward), a new dorsal UHF/VHF antenna as well as chaff/flare launchers for better self-protection. The side observation windows in the rear fuselage were also removed. At least one prototype was used for testing at CFTE (#089). Currently H-6G is in service with PLA Naval Aviation replacing the old H-6D. H-6G has been flying long-range sea strike training missions over the East China Sea facing Japan. A few were seen having two small windows installed underneath the rear fuselage which could house cameras for SAR purpose. Some have been upgraded with a new ECM antenna aft the cabin (S/N81x1x, 81x2x).In December 2017 some H-6Gs were seen carrying two large ECM pods similar to the ones carried by JH-7/JH-7A to further enhance its EW capability. In recent years most H-6Gs (H-6L? S/N 81x1x) have been modified to carry the new YJ-12 supersonic long range anti-ship cruise missiles (up to 2) under the stretched inner pylons, while ECM pods could be carried under the outer pylons. One image (May 2020) indicated that a few H-6Ls started to wear a new 2-digit serial number. The latest image (May 2021) indicated that some H-6Ls have upgraded with a dorsal SATCOM antenna. H-6G/L is expected to be replaced by the more morden H-6J (see below).
- Last Updated 5/2/21
A PLAAF H-6H (K/JH6H) stand-off missile carriers carrying two KD-63B LACMs are shown here. This variant (S/N 20x1x, 40x7x) is thought to have been be derived from H-6D AshM carrier featuring a large chin mounted surface search radar and a pair of large underwing pylons. All WWII style self-defense guns throughout the aircraft were removed except the tailguns were retained on some which were converted from old H-6Fs. The aircraft also adopts a new light gray color scheme. A green fairing is seen underneath the rear fuselage behind the bomb bay doors, which was thought as the datalink antenna for the KD-63 stand-off missile. KD-63 LACM has a cruise speed of Mach 0.9 and a max range of 200km using INS/GPS mid-course and TV terminal guidance, while carrying a 500kg warhead. This has made it the first generation Chinese stand-off LACM. H-6H first flew in December 1998, first fired KD-63 successfully in November 2002. The TV-guided KD-63 has been replaced by the IIR-guided KD-63B LACM for better all-weather performance. Images released in May 2014 indicated that several H-6Hs (S/N 20x1x) were upgraded with RWR antennas installed on the vertical fin, as well as chaff/flare dispensers on the side of rear fuselage. Others had VLOC antennas installed on the vertical fin. A recent image (May 2020) indicated that some H-6Hs started to carry a new yellow serial number on it vertical fin. The latest video (August 2020) suggested that H-6H practiced touch-and-go at the Woody Island in the South China Sea, probably in 2018. The latest image (March 2021) indicated that some were upgraded with a new dorsal SATCOM antenna. H-6H is expected to be replaced by the more modern H-6K (see below). - Last Updated 4/23/21
A PLAAF H-6M (K/JH6M?) cruise missile carrier was seen here. First entering service in 2007, this new variant (S/N 41x7x, 21x1x) were converted from the older H-6F, as its twin 23mm tailguns are retained. Similar to H-6H, H-6M was modified with a large chin mounted surface search radar and two pairs of underwing pylons. Other noticeable features are the much improved self-protecting measures including UV band MAWS sensors on the nose and above the rear gunner compartment, RWR antennas on the vertical fin tip, and chaff/flare dispensers along the side of rear fuselage. Its cockpit was also upgraded with some analog displays replaced by color MFDs. Two KD-20 ALCMs can be carried underneath the large inner pylons while two KL700A ECM pods can be carried underneath the smaller outer pylons. A small pylon underneath the fuselage behind the bomb bay could be the place to carry additional datalink pod (for guiding the KD-63/63B ASM). H-6M appears to be a low-cost, stop-gap solution until the more advanced H-6K enters PLAAF service. It has also been speculated to be the carrier (H-6MW, S/N 21x1x?) of the new WZ-8 high speed high altitude recon UAV by attaching a pair of clamp pylons/adaptors to its belly. Consequently the 4 underwing pylons as well as the small ventral pylon were removed. In addition a dorsal SATCOM antenna was installed. The latest image (March 2021) suggested that H-6M started to carry a yellow serial number on its vertical fin. H-6M is expected to be replaced by the new H-6K (see below).
- Last Updated 4/23/21
H-6K/KG Badger/God of War
An H-6K (BC-1, K/JH6K?) cruise missile carrier was taking off carrying 2 KD-20 ALCMs under its wings. The development of this new variant officially started in May 2003. The #001 prototype first flew on January 5, 2007 at XAC. Two prototypes were produced (861 & 862). Its major improvement is to replace two fuel-thirsty WP-8/AM-3 turbojet engines with Russian D-30KP-2 turbofan engines (TO thrust 12,000kg, similar to the engine used by Il-76MD in service with PLAAF), resulting in a greater range (combat radius ~3,500km) and a higher weapon load (~12t). Its max TO weight is 95t and fuel capacity is 40t. By 2016 a total of 463 D-30KP-2 engines were ordered from Russia. As the result the engine compartment was completely redesigned and appears longer. It was speculated that D-30KP-2 was reverse-engineered as WS-18 by the Chengdu Engine Corporation but its current status is unknown. Other improvements include a redesigned solid nose housing a large ground scanning radar developed by the 607 Institute (PESA? might have SAR and TF/TA modes) and a chin mounted EO turret containing FLIR, CCD TV camera and a laser designator for night/poor weather missions. The aircraft also has nose mounted ECM antennas, nose and tail MAWS sensors (RKG963A), RWR/ECM antennas on top of the vertical fin, a SATCOM antenna on the top of rear fuselage, a large ECM antenna underneath the rear fuselage, solid tail cone housing electronics with the tail gunner compartment removed, 6 underwing missile pylons and use of composite materials to reduce weight. Its cockpit has been completely redesigned featuring 6 color MFDs. The aircraft now has 3-member crew located in the forward cabin (two pilots+navigator/WSO), each equipped with a new ejection seat (HTY-6F) to improve survivability. The crew can also get into/out of the cabin quickly through a side door. Its internal bomb bay is retained. Therefore the aircraft still maintains its conventional bombing capability for low intensity conflict/anti-terrorism missions. A total of 6 KD-20/KD-20A long-range cruise missiles may be carried by H-6K, which are the air-launched version of DF-10 cruise missile (range ~1,500km, similar to Russian Kh-55). Besides KD-20, it can carry KD-63/KD-63B LACM (up to 4). In that case the aircraft would carry a datalink podunder a small pylon underneath the rear fuselage. It was revealed in April 2020 that H-6K started to fly anti-ship missions with the 4 YJ-12 long-range supersonic AShMs. The aircraft can carry up to 36 250kg unguided bombs under the6 large pylons for carpet bombing. It can also carry a single large bomb (similar to American BLU-82B) internally. H-6K is capable of flying strategic missions with these long-range cruise missiles (armed with nuclear warheads, even though so far there is no such evidence). The first batch of H-6Ks (~20) entered the service with PLAAF 8th Division (S/N 11x9x) in early 2011 facing Southeast Asia, Taiwan, Japan and American military base at Guam. The second batch of H-6Ks entered the service with PLAAF 10th Division (S/N 20x1x) in mid-2013 facing Taiwan, Japan, South Korea and Guam. The third batch entered the service with PLAAF 8th Division (S/N 10x9x) in summer 2015. Currently H-6K is in production and is thought to be a stop-gap measure until the new H-20 stealth bomber enters the service in the next decade. The latest images (January 2017) indicated that theforth batch is entering PLAAF 36th Division (S/N 41x7x) facing India. Since 2016 H-6K has been flying long-range cruise-missile attack training missions over the West Pacific Ocean as well as the South China Sea, escorted by Su-30MKKs. A recent image (May 2018) indicated that H-6K practiced touch-and-go at the Woody Island in the South China Sea. Another rumor (July 2018) claimed that a small hypersonic ASBM (M>7) has been test fired from a modified H-6K ASBM carrier in June 2018. At least 2 missiles can be carried under the wings. The success has allowed PLAAF/PLAN to achieve for the first time the long-range strike capability against aircraft carriers. A recent image (January 2019) indicated that the newest batch of H-6Ks (H-6KG? S/N 41x7x, 55x3x, 20x1x) have been upgraded with a new advanced IFF similar to American AN/APX-111(V) with blade antennas installed under its nose, plus additional ECM antennas on top of the fin (forward) as well as on its tail cone (aft). A recent image (July 2020) indicated that some H-6K started to adopt a new yellow serial number on its vertical fin. The latest image (October 2020) suggested that some H-6KG started to carry two H-6J style ECM pods underneath the additional outer wing pylons to further enhance its self-defense capability.
- Last Updated 1/5/21
H-6J Badger/God of War
After the success of H-6K cruise missile carrier for PLAAF, an AShM carrier variant calledH-6J (H/JH6J?) has been under development for PLAN to replace the old H-6G (see above). A prototype reportedly already flew in 2014. Besides the older YJ-83K, the aircraft can carry up to 6 YJ-12 ramjet powered supersonic AShMs (range >300km) under the wings. However normally 4 large YJ-12s are carried under the inner pylons and 2 smaller AShMs (might include a new type) are carried under the outer pylons. It has also been speculated to carry the rumored YJ-100 long-range supersonic anti-ship cruise missile (range~1,000km at Mach 4) based on DF-10. A satellite image taken in May 2015 indicated that oneH-6Jprototype (S/N 865?) was carrying two largeECM pods underneath the outer wings to ensure it can safely launch the missiles by suppressing the air defense system of enemy warships. By mid-2020, at least 12 H-6Js have entered the service with the PLAN independent regiment facing the South China Sea (S/N 90x1). It was also rumored in May 2019 that at least two (around 7 by November 2020) entered the service with another unit near Shanghai facing Japan, South Korea and Taiwan (S/N 91x5). Some started to wear a new two-digit serial number. A recent image (January 2020, taken from a Malaysian oil platform) indicated that H-6J flew long range recon/"show of force" missions over the disputed South China Sea, carrying 4 YJ-12 AShMs. The latest image (August 2020) suggested that H-6J was deployed briefly to the Woody Island in the South China Sea.
- Last Updated 2/9/21
H-6N Badger/God of War
It was first rumored in February 2017 that an AShBM carrier (H-6N, K/JH6N?) was being developed based on H-6K as an A2/AD weapon platform. The aircraft is equipped with a nose-mounted inflight refueling probe similar to Russian Tu-95MS and a prototype already flew. It was also speculated that a single large ballistic missile (dubbed CH-AS-X-13 by the western intelligence) could be carried externally underneath the fuselage in a semi-recessed fashion, aiming at American aircraft carriers. Due to the weight and drag of the missile H-6N's internal fuel is expected to be reduced at take-off and the aircraft has to be supported by the Il-78 tanker in order to extend its range. The CH-AS-X-13 AShBM is powered by a single stage solid fuel rocket engine. Its estimated specifications are: length 13m, diameter 1m, weight 10t. Three H-6N prototypes were built at XAC. The first batch might have entered the service with PLAAF in 2018. The first air launch of CH-AS-X-13 from a H-6K testbed was rumored to have taken place in December 2016. Recent images (August 2019) indicated that a small number (≥4) of H-6Ns have been in service with PLAAF (S/N 55x3x) stationed in central China armed with KD-63B and KD-20 ALCMs. The aircraft also features an advanced IFF with blade antennas underneath its nose, new ECM antennas on the cheeks, a section of fuel pipe rerouted outside the cabin on the starboard side as well as a pair of teardrop shaped fairings (datalink?) underneath the real fuselage. New wide-angle IIR MAWS blisters have been installed on the rear fuselage for better self-protection. There are evidences that H-6N features a large, semi-conformal hard point and a special clamp pylon/adaptor for the CH-AS-X-13 AShBM underneath mid-fuselage and consequently the internal bomb bay has been removed. The latest images (October 2020) suggested that the CH-AS-X-13 AShBM could feature a maneuverable hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV) with small control fins on top of a rocket booster. As the result, similar to DF-17 MRBM, the missile could have an extended range and is very difficult to be intercepted by shipborne ABM systems. Another speculation suggested that the missile is actually a medium-range ALBM system featuring a bi-conic nose cone and control fins. It could be armed with a nuclear warhead similar to DF-26 and have a range of ~3,000km.
- Last Updated 11/5/20
In late 1999 a $1.85 billion contract was signed by Chinese and Russian military leaders to purchase 38 Su-30MKK fighter bombers for PLAAF, with the first 10 delivered by KNAAPO on December 20, 2000, and the second 10 delivered on August 21, 2001 (S/N 62x0x). The rest of the batch were delivered by the end of 2001. More advanced and powerful than JH-7A, Su-30MKK has become the first fighter bomber operated by PLAAF capable of carrying a wide range of Russian-made precision-guided air-to-surface weapons including TV guided missiles (Kh-29T & Kh-59ME), anti-radiation missiles (Kh-31P), TV guided bombs (KAB-500KR & KAB-1500KR). In addition it can also carry Sorbtsiya ECM pods at wingtips and APK-9 datalink pod for Kh-59ME underneath its engine air intake. Its maximum weapon load is 8 ton. Its range can be extended up to 5,200km by in-flight refueling, using the newly acquired Il-78 as the tanker. As the result, it is expected to replace some roles of H-6 medium bomber to launch strikes against high value targets deep inside the enemy territory. The aircraft features Su-35 style fins with square tips and twin nose wheels. It also features a glass cockpit (front/back), an NIIP N001VE fire-control radar (range 100km, engage 2 aerial targets simultaneously, plus multiple AG modes) capable of firing R-77E active radar homing AAM. Consequently Su-30MKK can fulfill the role as a long-range interceptor. In addition, the older R-27 semi-active radar homing AAM can also been carried. It was rumored that Su-30MKK can be used as a mini-airborne command post to direct up to 16 of the same type via datalink to engage the enemy aircraft. Unlike Su-30MKI acquired by IAF, it lacks canard foreplanes, AL-31FP thrust-vectoring engine (Su-30MKK still uses AL-31F) and N-011M phased-array radar, however its delivery schedule is two and half years faster (in full standard). The acquisition of this F-15E class fighter bomber by PLAAF would inevitably tip the military balance in the North East Asia. In July 2001 China ordered the 2nd batch of 38 Su-30MKKs worth $1.5 billion during Chinese President's visit to Moscow. Some of them were delivered to PLAAF 54th Brigade Stationed at Changsha Airbase (S/N 66x5x), others went to the PLAAF Flight Test Training Base (S/N 78x3x). In January 2003 China ordered 24 Su-30MK2s (featuring an upgraded N001VEP radar able to fire Kh-31A AShM to attack two targets simultaneously) for the PLAN. All were delivered to the PLA Naval Aviation 4th Division (S/N 81x4x) by the end of August 2004. They have been used mainly as long-range interceptors carrying R-73 & R-77 AAMs over the East China Sea facing Japan and South Korea, as the two pilot crew are perfectly suitable for this type of mission. Unfortunately one was lost in March 2004 due to pilot error. The aircraft was later replaced. Su-30MKK is expected to be superseded by the indigenous J-16 currently under development (see below). Since April 2015 Su-30MKK has been upgraded to carry the indigenous KL700A ECM pod. It is likely that more Chinese made weapons (e.g. PL-12 AAM, LS-500J LGB and KD-88 ASM) would become compatible with the aircraft. An image released in October 2015 indicated that the fire control system onboard the naval Su-30MK2 has been upgraded locally and the aircraft is now able to carry the indigenous PL-12 active radar homing AAMs replacing the original R-77. Images released in August 2018 indicated that PL-8B IR homing AAM has been integrated as well. Its cockpit has been upgraded as well with a smalldisplay (for GPS/Beido?) installed next to the HUD. A small datalink antenna (?) was installed on its back. It would be interesting to see to what extent this domestic weapon upgrade would continue onboard Su-30MKK/MK2 as the import of Russian missiles would end eventually. Recent images (August & September 2016) indicated that Su-30MKK has been flying long-range escort missions with H-6K over the West Pacific Ocean as well as the South China Sea and Sea of Japan, supported by the Il-78 tanker and the KJ-2000 AWACS. The latest image (February 2021) suggested that some Su-30MK2s have been upgraded with a new blade IFF antenna under the nose replacing the old "Odd Rod" IFF antenna. Su-30MKK is expected to be replaced by the indigenous J-16 (see below).
- Last Updated 2/6/21
A close aerial shot of two PLAAF J-16s is shown here. It was first rumored in August 2010 that 601/SAC are developing a 3.5 generation heavy multi-role fighter bomber for PLAAF based on J-11BS. J-16 (K/JJ16?) can be viewed as an upgraded and indigenized version of Su-30MKK (see above) based on its mission and capability, and is comparable to American F-15E. Like Su-30MKK, J-16 features a retractable IFR probe on the port side of the nose to increase its range. As the result the IRST/LR systm was offset from the center to the starboard side. The tanker is believed to be the newly acquired Il-78 from Ukraine. The aircraft also has twin nose wheels due to increase of the TO weight. J-16 also has tandem seats with a copilot/WSO sitting in the backseat. Its major improvement is an AESA fire-control radar inside a gray radome with dedicated air-to-ground and air-to-sea modes. The radar, developed by the 607 Institute, was thought to have been tested onboard a J-11B radar testbed in 2014. As the result the nose tip pitot tube was removed. Like J-11BS, it is also powered by two WS-10D (13.2t?) turbofans. The aircraft also has a new glass cockpit featuring two large MFDs. J-16 is capable of carrying a variety of indigenous guided weapons, such as PL-10, PL-12, PL-15AAM, KD-88A ASM,YJ-83K AShM, YJ-91 ARM, LS-500J LGB, 500kg standoff submunition dispenser (TL500/GB6? similar to American AGM-154 JSOW) and possibly wind corrected munition dispenser (WCMD) similar to American CBU-103/104. The pilot is able to direct the missile to lock the target using HMDS. In November 2016 the aircraft was seen carrying a large VLRAAM (PL-20? range >300km) against enemy AWACS and tankers. However it is still unclear if J-16 is capable of carrying even bigger weapons, such as the 1,000kg TG-1000 "bunker buster" LGB. The aircraft may carry a new targeting pod (YINGS-III?) underneath the engine intake similar to American AN/AAQ-33 Sniper targeting pod. It has been seen carrying a KL700A ECM pod as well. Recent image (July 2020) indicated that a new EO tracking pod was carried by J-16. Compared to JH-7A, J-16 is expected to have a more powerful radar (AESA), a greater weapon load (8t) and a longer range (4,000km). First flight was rumored to have taken place in late 2011. Since spring 2013 at least two J-16 prototypes (1601 & 1603) have been undergoing tests at CFTE. It was rumored in October 2013 that the first batch of production J-16s (01 batch) was preparing to enter the limited service with PLAAF. A recent image (August 2015) indicated that the first batch of J-16s have entered the service with PLAAF (78x7x, 61x8x). It was speculated that PLAN also favorsJ-16over JH-7B which could carry two YJ-12 AShMs. It was rumored in September 2016 that an improved AESA radar has been fitted onborad J-16 (02 batch?) replacing the original one which caused the delay of achieving FOC. Images disclosed in August 2017 indicated that the 02 batch has entered the service with PLAAF (78x3x, 70x9x). The newly constructed J-16s started to wear a medium gray color scheme with low-visibility PLAAF insignias (light gray) and serial numbers (black) similar to those of J-20 and JL-10. Recent images (April 2018) indicated that the 03 batch of J-16 (65x1x, 70x9x) has entered the service with PLAAF. Recent images (September 2018) indicated that the 04 batch has entered the service with PLAAF as well (S/N 61x4x). The newly built J-16s feature a light gray radome (05 batch). A recent image (March 2020) indicated that the 06 batch entered the service with PLAAF. Another image (August 2020) indicated that the 07 batch has entered the service with PLAAF (S/N 63x7x), which might be powered by the new WS-10/03 Series turbofan engine featuring a modified nozzle. The latest rumor (March 2021) suggested that a J-16 testbed featuring the AI algorithm Intelligence Victory acting as the copilot in the backseat has been undergoing test flights at SAC.
- Last Updated 3/23/21
J-16Dis an EW Wild Weasel variant of J-16 (K/JJ16D/J-17?) in the same class of American EA-18G.The aircraft features a pair of large wingtip ESM/ELINT pods similar to the AN/ALQ-218tactical jamming receiver onboard EA-18G. It also has multiple antennasmounted on its fuselageincludingone on the side of engine intake, one behind the cockpit, one underneath the cockpit plus a rectangular dielectric panel behind the radome. A shorter radome on the nose suggests it might be equipped with a new AESA radar with integrated EW modes similar to AN/APG-79. Additional EW pods are expected to be carried under the wings. As a dedicated EW aircraft, J-16D can fly fast enough toescort the fighter/fighter bomber formation and clear the pathway for the air strike with YJ-91 as well as the new generation of ARMs (e.g. LD-10, CM-102). However, itswindshield IRST/LR system and the starboard 30mm gunappear to have been removed to create room for extra electronics. As the result J-16Dmight rely solely onmedium-range AAMs (e.g. PL-12/PL-15) for self-defence and would avoid engagement in any WVR dogfight. Some of its technology could have been applied towards the J-15D EW aircraft which is also under development at SAC. J-16Dflew for the first time on December 18, 2015 at SAC. An image in February 2017 suggested that the 2nd prototype had flown at SAC. A recent image (February 2019) suggested that the first batch of J-16D was entering the service with PLAAF. The latest image (December 2019) indicated that more J-16Ds are being produced at SAC. - Last Updated 12/3/19