By Andreas Rupprecht & Gabriel Dominguez
Video footage has emerged showing for the first time a People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) Xian Aircraft Corporation (XAC) H-6N strategic bomber carrying a large weapon under its fuselage that appears to be an air-launched ballistic missile (ALBM) fitted with a hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV).
The footage, which was first posted on the Weibo social media platform on 17 October by what appeared to be an aircraft spotter, shows the bomber during its final approach to an airbase at an undisclosed location.
The H-6N made its first public appearance in a fly-past for China’s National Day Parade on 1 October 2019. At the time the aircraft was shown armed with two CJ-10K/KD-20 and two KD-63 land attack cruise missiles. The bomber is readily distinguishable from other H-6 variants as it is fitted with an aerial refuelling probe above the nose radome. Less obvious are the modifications under the fuselage, which include a reshaped section in place of the bomb bay doors, enabling it to carry a large external weapon using centreline hard-point mountings.
The H-6N is believed to have entered PLAAF service in late 2018 and been assigned to a new bomber unit under the PLA’s Central Theatre Command.
The latest developments come after an article published in the 1 November 2019 issue of the Chinese bi-monthly magazine Modern Ships.