The main mission objective of China’s H-6K bomber is to strike key strategic points deep within enemy territories, the state broadcaster revealed, leading experts to predict that the warplane could eventually be armed with hypersonic weapons that can destroy hostile military hubs 3,000 kilometers away within minutes, Global Times reported.
Together with advanced J-20 stealth fighters, H-6Ks could devastate the enemy’s fighting capability even before a war gets fully underway, analysts said.
“In a war, our main objective is to launch attacks on an enemy’s deep and vital positions, paralyzing their facilities. This is what we especially excel at,” said H-6K pilot Li Ping, China Central Television (CCTV) reported.
While the H-6K is not a stealth warplane, nor does it have outstanding speed to penetrate deep into hostile territory, it is equipped with very advanced weapons including air-launched cruise missiles, enabling it to attack targets far away, Wang Ya’nan, chief editor of Aerospace Knowledge magazine, told the Global Times.
“The H-6K can remain within a safe zone, launch its missiles that can reach targets 2,000 kilometers away,” Wang said, noting that these missiles are difficult to intercept due to their stealth capabilities.
“With China developing hypersonic weapons [missiles that fly at least five times the speed of sound] in recent years, its attack range and speed could become even greater than a conventional cruise missile, potentially capable of taking out targets deep within hostile territories 3,000 kilometers away within just a few minutes,” Wang predicted.
Assuming each H-6K can carry six missiles, 10 bombers can attack as many as 60 vital military hubs, which could virtually destroy the enemy, he said.
Much like the Vietnam War, where North Vietnam Army forces nicknamed the US Navy’s long-range battleship guns, “silent death,” for their instantaneous destruction, potential targets would never hear it coming.
CCTV also reported that the Air Force’s J-20 fighter jets have been conducting full-scale, beyond-visual-range aerial combat exercises.
The J-20 could partner with the H-6K and clear the sky by shooting down hostile aerial hubs such as early warning aircraft and tanker aircraft, while the H-6K will scorch land hubs such as command centers and missile positions, according to Wang.
Of course, the Pentagon has taken note, coming up with a space-age plan to battle Russian and Chinese hypersonic weapons, according to C4ISR.net.
The Space Development Agency and the Missile Defense Agency proposes this: a proliferated low-Earth orbit constellation comprised of hundreds of satellites capable of detecting and tracking hypersonics.
And Congress appears to be supportive of the concept. Both the House and Senate opted to include US$108 million for a hypersonic weapons tracking layer in space in the national defense policy bill, which was on the MDA’s list of unfunded priorities, the report said.
Hypersonic weapons break all the rules of the missile defense game. With speeds surpassing Mach 5 and the ability to maneuver mid-flight, hypersonic weapons defy the missile defense status quo, potentially making the US’s current defenses obsolete.
China and Russia are vigorously pursuing hypersonic weapons, and the United States is desperate to neutralize them.