Hong-6 (Chinese copy of the Tu-16 Badger) twin-engine jet bomber. ">


H-6U tanker china

H-6U Air Refueling Tanker

The Hong-6 aerial refuelling tanker aircraft, designated Hong-6U (H-6U) for the PLA Air Force (PLAAF) and Hong-6DU (H-6DU) for the PLA Naval Air Force (PLANAF), was based on the Xi’an Hong-6 (Chinese copy of the Tu-16 Badger) twin-engine jet bomber.

Fitted with a hose and drogue refuelling system, the tanker entered PLAAF and PLANAF service in the mid-1990s primarily intended to support the J-8D fighters deployed by both services. The PLA has reportedly ordered 8 Russian Il-78 Midas refuelling tankers as a supplement to its existing H-6 tanker fleet.

  Related Aircraft:
Chinese J15, Chinese J20,
F-35 JSF, F/A-18, F-22

Programme

www.dayangma.comBefore the late 1980s, the primary role of the PLAAF was to defend the mainland, and most of their aircraft were assigned to this role.

Therefore the PLA had no requirement for the aerial refuelling capability.

By the late 1980s, the PLAAF began a modernisation programme to transform itself from a purely defensive force to a force with both offensive and defensive capabilities.

Under this new strategy, the PLAAF was required to expand its reach to China’s peripheral regions, such as the South China Sea and Taiwan Strait. To achieve this target, the PLAAF was desperate in need for an aerial refuelling capability that could extend the radius of its combat aircraft.

H-6U tanker china

China initially approached several Western manufacturers for potential purchase or licenses production of the aerial refuelling systems. However, all talks were stopped as a result of the arms ban imposed on China during the aftermath of the 1989 incident. In the early 1990s, China was reported to have obtained some 1960s/70s-era Western-made aerial refuelling equipment through Israel or Iran, which was later used as a pattern for developing China’s own indigenous design.

Chinese air refueling pod - H-6U tanker

During a defence technology exhibition held in Beijing in 1988, China revealed the model of an aerial refuelling tanker aircraft design based on the H-6 bomber. The H-6 tanker entered development in 1988, with the maiden flight taking place in 1990. The first successful aerial refuelling operation between a H-6U tanker and a J-8D (NATO codename: Finback) fighter took place in 1991. The tanker entered PLAAF service in 1996. During the 1999 national day military parade held in Beijing, two H-6U tankers escorted by four J-8D fighters flew over the Tiananmen square. Later photos also show the tanker refuelling a specially modified Chengdu J-10 fighter.

H-6U tanker china

Both the PLAAF and the PLANAF operate the H-6 tanker aircraft. The air force version designated H-6U uses newly built airframes which lacks the glass-in nose found on the H-6 bomber, while the navy version designed H-6DU appears to be converted from existing H-6D anti-ship missile bomber, which retained the glass-in nose and the large under-chin radome for fire-control radar. A total of 12~20 examples are believed to have been built so far.

The H-6 tanker was estimated to be at least a generation behind Western or Russian designs. Each H-6 tanker carries two drogue and hose refuelling pods under its wings, capable of refuelling two J-8D fighters simultaneously, and up to six fighters in one round, extending their combat radius from 800km to 1,200km. The H-6 is also capable of refuelling the indigenous J-10 fighter and possibly JH-7 fighter-bomber too, but its refuelling system is not compatible with the refuelling probe of the Su-30MKK fighter. It is possible that the PLAAF will keep a small fleet of the H-6 tanker along with the heavier IL-78 tankers to provide flexibility and save operation costs.

H-6U tanker china

The H-6 tanker has a similar avionic configuration as the H-6A bomber. For refuelling operations the tanker has two inertial navigation systems (INS) (one for backup) for navigation, two TAKAN systems for all-weather day/night mutual detection and approach from distances up to 200km, and a weather radar accommodated in the nose. The aircraft also has radio/light signal system for night refuelling operations. The aircraft’s electronic countermeasures (ECM) suite includes a radar warning receiver (RWR) and chaff/flare dispensers.

H-6U tanker china

Deployment

PLAAF 8th Air Division based at Leiyang Air Station in Hunan Province operates around 10 air force variant H-6 tanker. PLANAF 9th Division based at Lingshui Air Station in Hainan Island operates three H-6D tankers (possibly converted from existing H-6D bombers).

The H-6 tanker carries 37 tonnes of aviation fuel inside its tanks and can transfer 18.5 tonnes of fuel to the fighter aircraft. The refuelling system consists if two RDC-1 refuelling pods developed by China Institute of Aero Accessories. The two pods are mounted on pylons under each wing and a control panel in the operator’s station. Two fighter aircraft can be refuelled at the same time. The operator station is located inside the original tail gun turret on the H-6 bomber.

Refuelling System

The H-6 tanker carries 37 tonnes of aviation fuel inside its tanks and can transfer 18.5 tonnes of fuel to the fighter aircraft. The refuelling system consists if two RDC-1 refuelling pods developed by China Institute of Aero Accessories. The two pods are mounted on pylons under each wing and a control panel in the operator’s station. Two fighter aircraft can be refuelled at the same time. The operator station is located inside the original tail gun turret on the H-6 bomber.

With around 167,300 lb (75,800 kg) MTOW, 82,000 lb (37,150 kg) BEW, and an internal fuel payload of about 85,000 lb (38600 kg) using a bomb bay tank to supplant a 20,000 lb (9,000 kg) internal bomb payload, the Badger makes for a reasonable tanker in the size and offload class of the British V-bomber tanker conversions. With a total fuel uplift at MTOW about one half of a KC-135E/R, each Badger in practical terms can adequately support only two fighters.

The PLA has never disclosed the exact number of H-6 Badgers converted to tankers , nor proper technical detail on the configuration of the tanker. The aircraft is claimed to have dual INS and dual RSBN TACAN beacons.

Aerial refueling, also called air refueling, in-flight refueling (IFR), air-to-air refueling (AAR) or tanking, is the process of transferring fuel from one aircraft (the tanker) to another (the receiver) during flight.[1] The procedure allows the receiving aircraft to remain airborne longer, extending its range or loiter time on station.

Specifications

Flight crew: 3
Normal take-off weight: 72,000kg
Max take-off weight: 75,800kg
Max internal fuel capacity: 37,000kg
Refuelling capacity: 18,500kg
Max speed: 1,014km/h
Cruising speed: Mach 0.75 (786km/h)
Max range: 6,000km
Service ceiling: 13,100m

 

 

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