Wendell Minnick
Wendell Minnick

China and Russia are negotiating about the purchase of Russian bombers Tupolev Tu-22M3 Backfire long-range strategic bombers and Sukhoi Su-34 fighter-bombers. Very much is unclear about China’s requirements, but defense analyst Wendell Minnick has some backgrounds on what China is going, he writes in Defense News.

Wendell Minnick:

What analysts do know is that China’s military is upgrading its Xian H-6 medium-range bomber, a licensed variant of the Tu-16. The upgrade, known as the H-6K, includes a re-engineered Russian NPO Saturn D-30KP turbofan engine, larger air intakes, die-electric nose radome and a redesigned flight deck. The engines boost its range to 3,500 kilometers and allow it to carry both land-attack cruise missiles and anti-ship cruise missiles.

Richard Fisher, a senior fellow of Asian military affairs at the International Assessment and Strategy Center, said China has begun outfitting the H-6K with a new supersonic, 400-kilometer-range anti-ship missile, YJ-12 Eagle Strike, which also might be outfitted on the Xian JH-7 Flying Leopard fighter-bomber and Shenyang J-11 fighters.

Fisher said he does not believe recent reports out of China that Russia may sell refurbished Tu-22M3s to China. China chose to upgrade the H-6 over offers to buy the Tu-22M3 over a decade ago, he said.

China is also developing a stealthier variant of the JH-7 fighter-bomber and reportedly developing a copy of the Russian Su-34 strike bomber, dubbed the J-17, Fisher said, “all of which would tend to deny funds for a purchase of Su-34s” from Russia.

More in Defense News.

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