skip to main content

New aerial vehicle seen on Chinese H-6 bomber

This conceptualised graphic of a new air-launched vehicle recently carried by a Xi'an H-6MW bomber is based on a low-quality photograph. The new air vehicle is possibly based on the design and development of other Chinese air vehicles such as the WZ-8 and MD-22, and a new HSV. (Janes)

A Chinese Xi'an Aircraft Company (XAC) H-6MW bomber has been photographed in flight while carrying a new type of air-launched vehicle.

The H-6MW is a specialised, cruise missile-carrying variant of the People's Liberation Army Air Force's (PLAAF's) strategic bomber. Janes has previously assessed that the aircraft is the airborne launch platform for the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) WZ-8 supersonic, high-altitude reconnaissance unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).

However, the new aerial vehicle seen carried by the bomber differs in design from the WZ-8, suggesting it could be part of a new programme to develop a supersonic or hypersonic air vehicle. A photograph of the H-6MW carrying the new aerial vehicle first appeared on Chinese social media from the third week of April. The programme is likely inspired by the WZ-8 programme.

Powered by two liquid-fuelled (possibly hydrazine-based) rocket engines, the WZ-8 has two outward canted fins on the wingtips as well as what appears to be a conformal synthetic aperture radar under its wings and dorsal satellite communication or navigation antennas. The WZ-8 is operational with the PLAAF's 30th Air Regiment, operating from Luhe-Ma'an Air Base near Nanjing.

The WZ-8 is estimated to have a length of between 11.5 and 13 m and a wingspan of between 4.5 and 6.7 m.

The new air vehicle seen on the H-6MW is assessed by Janes

Looking to read the full article?

Gain unlimited access to Janes news and more...