PLA Navy’s new bomber debuts in South China Sea drills
Published: Jul 30, 2020 10:34 PM

An H-6 bomber attached to an aviation regiment of the navy under the PLA Eastern Theater Command taxies down the flightline after landing during a flight training task in mid-March, 2020. ( by Yang Ling)

New warplanes affiliated with the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy, including H-6G and H-6J bombers, recently conducted intensive round-the-clock drills in the South China Sea, China's Ministry of National Defense announced on Thursday. 

This is the first time the Chinese military has officially revealed the H-6J bomber, the Global Times learned.

During the drills, the warplanes under the PLA Southern Theater Command Navy Aviation Force successfully completed training exercises including takeoff and landing in daytime and nighttime, long-distance strike and attacks on surface targets, said Senior Colonel Ren Guoqiang, a Defense Ministry spokesperson, at a routine press conference on Thursday.

The drills were a routine arrangement in the annual schedule and contributed to the pilots' technique and tactical ability, as well as the troops' all-weather combat capabilities, Ren said.

Military experts told the Global Times that the training subjects are very combat-oriented, and showed that the H-6J, which made its first public appearance, already has the capability to conduct all-weather combat missions and is also capable of accurately attacking moving maritime targets.

Citing commercial satellite images, the Chinese media reported that four H-6Js were first spotted in a PLA Naval base in South China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in September 2018. It said that the H-6J can carry seven YJ-12 supersonic anti-ship cruise missiles, with six under the wings and one in the weapon bay. The H-6J's weapon capacity is about twice that of the H-6G, with 50 percent farther combat radius to about 3,500 kilometers, the report said.

Wang Ya'nan, a Chinese aviation industry expert and chief editor of Aerospace Knowledge magazine, told the Global Times on Thursday that the Defense Ministry introduced the H-6 bombers' exercises in detail and demonstrated China's capabilities in safeguarding its national sovereignty and rights.

It also showed that China's different variants in the H-6 series bombers have achieved all-weather combat capabilities, Wang said.

The recent PLA warplanes' exercises in the South China Sea came at a time when the US military has been stirring up trouble in the region with dual aircraft carrier exercises and frequent close-up reconnaissance with large reconnaissance aircraft on South China's coastal regions from the South China Sea.

China did not hold the drills at the same time as the US aircraft carrier exercises, which showed restraint, but revealing the details of the drills showed the PLA's determination to safeguard China's core interests, Wang said, noting that the determination must be demonstrated by actual deeds.