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Some recent word about new Y-20 variants not long from now such as tanker or AEW. First one said by head of a loading group unit on a TV program. The second one is photo of maybe fueling pod attached.

y-20u1.jpg

Two more images in the spoiler

 

y-20u2.jpg

 

y-20u3.jpg

 

 

https://twitter.com/z5J6NWig6ByNnsC/status/1231857907987148800

 

 

 

 

y-20u4.jpg

 

 

 

运20空中加油机现身 翼下两个加油吊舱清晰可见(图)

运-20空中加渍机(网络图片)

  近日网上出现过运-20空中加油机的图片,它表明运-20空中加油机正在加紧试飞之中,列装或指日可待。该机研制成功将会显著提高中国空军空中加油能力,从而弥补中国空军最大一块短板。

  从相关图片可以清楚看到运-20空中加油机主要在机翼两侧加挂软式空中加油吊舱,可以同时为2架战斗机进行空中加油机。外界推测它还极有可能在机尾一侧加装第3个空中加油吊舱,这样运-20空中加油机最多可以同时为3架战斗机进行空中加油。

根据海外资料,中国空军现役只有3架伊尔-78空中加油机,另外还有数十架轰油-6空中加油机。由于轰油-6是从轰-6轰炸机改装而来,起飞重量低,载油量少,加上采用涡喷发动机,自身油耗大,从而限制了该机空中加油能力,需要替代,因此外界普遍认为空中加油能力是中国空军最大一块短板。

  进入新世纪中国空军具备空中加油能力作战飞机急剧增加。目前国产战斗机基本上可以空中加油,例如歼-20、歼-16、歼-10系列,这些飞机加起来已经突破700架大关。另外中国空军轰炸机、预警机也开始配备空中加油系统以提高航程和留空时间,例如国产轰6N战略轰炸机、空警500预警机等。这些飞机自身起飞重量较大,对于空中加油机要求也更高,因此对于中国空军来说需要更多、更大空中加油机。

对于中国空军来说,运-20显然是改装新一代大型空中加油机最好国产飞机,海外资料认为它的最大起飞重量超过200吨。就这个指标而言已经超过了美国空军KC-135和KC-46A空中加油机,仅次于KC-10空中加油机。外界推测它有可能和俄罗斯伊尔-78一样,在货舱增加一个油罐来装油,最大载油量有可能超过100吨。这样设计好处就是运-20空中加油机仍然保留空运能力,在不执行空中加油任务的时候也可以用来运送人员和装备。这也是现代空中加油机一个发展趋势,中国空军现在既缺少大型运输机也缺少空中加油机,如果一架飞机能够“身兼两职”显然是非常有意义的。当然保留货物装载设备会占据货舱内空间,降低运-20空中加油机载油,机舱货舱门也会增加飞机阻力,提高油耗,算是有得有失。

运-20设计定型之后,将会很快投产列装。因此有一部分运-20可能会按照空中加油机标准进行生产。外界普遍认为中国空军可能会装备“数百架”运-20,其中有一部分将会是运输/空中加油机,这样中国空军大型空中加油机装备规模极有可能超过100架,这样就可以有效解决中国空军空中加油能力不足的问题。

未来国产空中加油机还将进一步向前发展,运-20在2020年之后将会换装备国产WS-20大涵道比涡扇发动机,这种发动机推力更大,油耗更低,运-20配备这种发动机之后,载荷航程性能将会得到提高,因此中国空军有可能在运-20改进型基础上研制专用空中加油机。这种空中加油机可能象伊尔-78M那样去掉货舱装载设备,腾出空间来载油,机尾舱门封闭,降低飞行阻力,从而增强飞机空中加油能力。2030年之后,随着国产C929客机研制成功,中国空军还有可能在C929客机基础上研制空中加油机,C929客机与运-20相比,它采用双发设计,机身细长,载荷航程性能更好,任务环境也更加舒适,更适合改装为空中加油机。另外它还有可能改装硬式空中加油机系统,配合隐身飞机进行空中加油。

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https://mil.news.sina.com.cn/jssd/2020-02-11/doc-iimxxstf0561774.shtml

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Is there any source on how many H-6Ks are in service? Or H-6s in general for that matter. I was under the impression the oldest aircraft were being retired (most of them were not particularly capable, even the 'M' versions, compared to the 'K' with turbofans).

Here's an interesting site. It has pictures for each aircraft with a different number. For H-6K it counts to 61 that have a picture of it. If all those pictures are really of different H-6Ks and none being some older version, its more than I would have thought.

http://chinese-military-aviation.blogspot.jp/p/gallery-i.html#H-6K

60 would be a lot more than I would have thought. I thought the entire H-6 force was rough 120 machines, but it must be much larger unless older variant are being retired as the K comes online. I had heard once before that the production rate was a dozen airframes per year, but I think it must rather higher. I wonder what the total production run will be? I would have thought 100-200 total.

 

The link is still providing updates on spotted aircraft. I've been checking it every once in a while and only seen it increasing. From the 61 modern H-6 aircraft (61 H-6Ks) spotted by Nov 2017 to now at 92 modern H-6 aircraft (82 H-6Ks, 6 H-6Js, and 4 H-6Ns). That's plus 31 in 2.5 years.

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Thanks for that. So not a massive increase, but steady production, and I think we can assume that is list is only representative and that the full count is significantly north of that.

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Maybe not many more, adding up all the H-6 in the bases visible in Google Earth and the wiki I come up with 120, but I missed one base which puts off the figure +/- 30

Edited by RETAC21
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If the H-6s are easy maintenance, then in "grey zone" activity over the long term, lots of them will give them advantage over B-1s.

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I am surprised they never purchased Tu-22M for the anti shipping role.

 

Didn't offer any advantage vs the H-6 which was already in production once supersonic missiles came in line. Now that they apparently have developed a AShBM makes less sense.

 

This is not uniquely Chinese, the US developed supersonic missiles (the SRAM) for it's subsonic B-52 and subsonic missiles (ALCM) for it's supersonic bomber (the B-1)

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The Tu-22M clearly makes interception more challenging, both ingress and most especially egress. To say the type has no advantage over H-6 is odd; the Tu-22 had a supersonic missile armament from day one. However the Tu-22M3 is not in production (though they are being modernized) and it isn't clear that the Russians would have ever offered to sell them or the design to China, all rumors aside. The H-6 will fullfil the role the PLA-AF/PLA-N need using stand off weapons, and as noted it will be available in larger numbers in theater level than US bombers ever will be.

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The Tu-22M clearly makes interception more challenging, both ingress and most especially egress. To say the type has no advantage over H-6 is odd; the Tu-22 had a supersonic missile armament from day one. However the Tu-22M3 is not in production (though they are being modernized) and it isn't clear that the Russians would have ever offered to sell them or the design to China, all rumors aside. The H-6 will fullfil the role the PLA-AF/PLA-N need using stand off weapons, and as noted it will be available in larger numbers in theater level than US bombers ever will be.

 

When you are carrying a 1200 Km ballistic missile you don't need to be supersonic, because you are not getting close to any air defence:

 

H-6N_DF-21D3.jpg

 

http://chinese-military-aviation.blogspot.com/p/attack-aircraft.html

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The Tu-22M clearly makes interception more challenging, both ingress and most especially egress. To say the type has no advantage over H-6 is odd; the Tu-22 had a supersonic missile armament from day one. However the Tu-22M3 is not in production (though they are being modernized) and it isn't clear that the Russians would have ever offered to sell them or the design to China, all rumors aside. The H-6 will fullfil the role the PLA-AF/PLA-N need using stand off weapons, and as noted it will be available in larger numbers in theater level than US bombers ever will be.

 

Re numbers, the H-6 is smaller than the B-52 and carry less weapons, so obviously they need more of them to achieve the same effect, but do not be fooled by mirror imaging the capabilities of the US, as the PRC may not feel the need since their targets are closer to home.

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The Tu-22M clearly makes interception more challenging, both ingress and most especially egress. To say the type has no advantage over H-6 is odd; the Tu-22 had a supersonic missile armament from day one. However the Tu-22M3 is not in production (though they are being modernized) and it isn't clear that the Russians would have ever offered to sell them or the design to China, all rumors aside. The H-6 will fullfil the role the PLA-AF/PLA-N need using stand off weapons, and as noted it will be available in larger numbers in theater level than US bombers ever will be.

 

When you are carrying a 1200 Km ballistic missile you don't need to be supersonic, because you are not getting close to any air defence:

 

H-6N_DF-21D3.jpg

 

http://chinese-military-aviation.blogspot.com/p/attack-aircraft.html

 

 

I don't believe that the H-6N is a ballistic missile platform personally. Your mileage may differ.

Edited by Josh
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The Tu-22M clearly makes interception more challenging, both ingress and most especially egress. To say the type has no advantage over H-6 is odd; the Tu-22 had a supersonic missile armament from day one. However the Tu-22M3 is not in production (though they are being modernized) and it isn't clear that the Russians would have ever offered to sell them or the design to China, all rumors aside. The H-6 will fullfil the role the PLA-AF/PLA-N need using stand off weapons, and as noted it will be available in larger numbers in theater level than US bombers ever will be.

 

Re numbers, the H-6 is smaller than the B-52 and carry less weapons, so obviously they need more of them to achieve the same effect, but do not be fooled by mirror imaging the capabilities of the US, as the PRC may not feel the need since their targets are closer to home.

 

 

I specifically stated 'theater level' to emphasize not so much the numbers of bombers built or how they were used but the fact that they generally can always be quickly concentrated in one geographic area rather easily where as US aircraft have to be remotely based.

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IIRC there were rumours in the '90s about China asking to acquire Backfires, but Russians were uncomfortable with the idea of providing Chinese a potentially powerful nuclear delivery asset. But might have been just vivid imagination of defence analyst community, Tu-22M is a complicated system which is expensive to maintain and that alone might have scared prospective customers away.

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The Tu-22M clearly makes interception more challenging, both ingress and most especially egress. To say the type has no advantage over H-6 is odd; the Tu-22 had a supersonic missile armament from day one. However the Tu-22M3 is not in production (though they are being modernized) and it isn't clear that the Russians would have ever offered to sell them or the design to China, all rumors aside. The H-6 will fullfil the role the PLA-AF/PLA-N need using stand off weapons, and as noted it will be available in larger numbers in theater level than US bombers ever will be.

 

Re numbers, the H-6 is smaller than the B-52 and carry less weapons, so obviously they need more of them to achieve the same effect, but do not be fooled by mirror imaging the capabilities of the US, as the PRC may not feel the need since their targets are closer to home.

 

 

I specifically stated 'theater level' to emphasize not so much the numbers of bombers built or how they were used but the fact that they generally can always be quickly concentrated in one geographic area rather easily where as US aircraft have to be remotely based.

 

 

How long does it take to deploy US bombers? a day? the difference between both methods is a matter of hours

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One advantage of the Tu-22M3M is you can carry up to ten Kh-15, (or for China, CX-1 or YJ-12) whose shorter range might make them a little dicey to use on a subsonic platform.

Edited by KV7
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The Tu-22M clearly makes interception more challenging, both ingress and most especially egress. To say the type has no advantage over H-6 is odd; the Tu-22 had a supersonic missile armament from day one. However the Tu-22M3 is not in production (though they are being modernized) and it isn't clear that the Russians would have ever offered to sell them or the design to China, all rumors aside. The H-6 will fullfil the role the PLA-AF/PLA-N need using stand off weapons, and as noted it will be available in larger numbers in theater level than US bombers ever will be.

 

Re numbers, the H-6 is smaller than the B-52 and carry less weapons, so obviously they need more of them to achieve the same effect, but do not be fooled by mirror imaging the capabilities of the US, as the PRC may not feel the need since their targets are closer to home.

 

 

I specifically stated 'theater level' to emphasize not so much the numbers of bombers built or how they were used but the fact that they generally can always be quickly concentrated in one geographic area rather easily where as US aircraft have to be remotely based.

 

 

How long does it take to deploy US bombers? a day? the difference between both methods is a matter of hours

 

 

The bigger problem is sortie rate. How long does it take to fly from Guam to Taiwan and back? The PLA-AF has ~30 airfields inside 500 miles of Taiwan. And three in the SCS now. The US has one airfield >1500 miles away that is still within DF-26 range. Second question: how long does it take to fly to China from Honolulu?

Edited by Josh
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The Tu-22M clearly makes interception more challenging, both ingress and most especially egress. To say the type has no advantage over H-6 is odd; the Tu-22 had a supersonic missile armament from day one. However the Tu-22M3 is not in production (though they are being modernized) and it isn't clear that the Russians would have ever offered to sell them or the design to China, all rumors aside. The H-6 will fullfil the role the PLA-AF/PLA-N need using stand off weapons, and as noted it will be available in larger numbers in theater level than US bombers ever will be.

 

Re numbers, the H-6 is smaller than the B-52 and carry less weapons, so obviously they need more of them to achieve the same effect, but do not be fooled by mirror imaging the capabilities of the US, as the PRC may not feel the need since their targets are closer to home.

 

 

I specifically stated 'theater level' to emphasize not so much the numbers of bombers built or how they were used but the fact that they generally can always be quickly concentrated in one geographic area rather easily where as US aircraft have to be remotely based.

 

 

How long does it take to deploy US bombers? a day? the difference between both methods is a matter of hours

 

 

The bigger problem is sortie rate. How long does it take to fly from Guam to Taiwan and back? The PLA-AF has ~30 airfields inside 500 miles of Taiwan. And three in the SCS now. The US has one airfield >1500 miles away that is still within DF-26 range. Second question: how long does it take to fly to China from Honolulu?

 

 

I see what you say there, the solution lies underwater:

 

U.S.-Navy-Cruise-Missile-Submarine-USS-M

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IIRC there were rumours in the '90s about China asking to acquire Backfires, but Russians were uncomfortable with the idea of providing Chinese a potentially powerful nuclear delivery asset. But might have been just vivid imagination of defence analyst community, Tu-22M is a complicated system which is expensive to maintain and that alone might have scared prospective customers away.

 

Recall hearing those rumors as well, although they may have been more recent. Beijing may not have been able to afford strategic nuclear delivery redundancy in the 90s in consideration of other modernization needs. "Gulf Shock" in terms of one understanding one's weakness was not an exclusively Japanese reaction to the realities of the post-Cold War era.

Edited by Nobu
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IIRC there were rumours in the '90s about China asking to acquire Backfires, but Russians were uncomfortable with the idea of providing Chinese a potentially powerful nuclear delivery asset. But might have been just vivid imagination of defence analyst community, Tu-22M is a complicated system which is expensive to maintain and that alone might have scared prospective customers away.

 

Recall hearing those rumors as well, although they may have been more recent. Beijing may not have been able to afford strategic nuclear delivery redundancy in the 90s in consideration of other modernization needs. "Gulf Shock" in terms of the weak understanding their weakness was not an exclusively Japanese reaction to the realities of the post-Cold War era.

 

 

Gulf shock was a real thing for the PRC, they realised their whole concept of war was worthless. US intervention in the Taiwan crisis of 1995/96 underlined that.

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The drive towards quality, and a focus on aviation and naval capability was not just 'Gulf shock', it was also the fall of the USSR (and a little earlier, the warming relations and dissipation of the Sino-Soviet split tensions) which reduced the perceived need for huge formations able to fight a land war vs a superpower.

Edited by KV7
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They can be forgiven for clinging to a land war above all mentality I think, given their experience as a people in combat against the Imperial Japanese Army. It was existential for them.

Edited by Nobu
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