JH-7A’s Evolution ContinuesChina’s Aviation Industries (AVIC) has further developed the existing JH-7A ‘Flying Leopard’ deep interdictor/strike aircraft into two specific dedicated airborne platforms: one for suppressing hostile air defences (the SEAD role), and another for undertaking ELINT functions in lieu of launching SEAD-based air campaigns. To be employed by the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF), these two variants have been in production since 2006. The original tandem-seat JH-7A bomber, which began entering service with the PLAAF in late 2004, comes equipped with a CETC-developed and built JL-10AG monopulse pulse-Doppler X-band multi-mode radar, digital fly-by-wire flight control system, and twin WS-9 ‘Qinling’ turbofans (certified in July 2003) that are fully indigenised afterburning variants of the Rolls-Royce Spey MK202 turbofans. The JH-7A has 11 hardpoints, including six underwing, twin wingtip-mounted (for carrying within-visual-range PL-9C air combat missiles), two under the engine air intakes, and one centreline pylon. Together, these pylons can carry can carry the PL-9C, the 70km-range YJ-91/Kh-31P Krypton supersonic anti-radiation missiles, LT-2 laser-guided bombs and FT-/LS-family of GPS-guided bombs. A data-link pod carried underneath the portside engine air intake provides enemy radar emission/direction-finding cues to the YJ-91/Kh-31P. For all-weather strike sorties, the JH-7A comes equipped with a belly-mounted K/CDC-01 target acquisition/laser designator pod to paint targets for 500kg and 1,000kg laser-guided bombs. Other guided-missiles carried by the JH-7A include China National Precision Machinery Import-Export Corp’s (CPMIEC) C-704 anti-ship cruise missile with 35km range; the YJ-83K/C-802KD air-launched anti-ship cruise missile with 120km range (already operational with the Xian JH-7A bombers of the PLA Navy’s 28th Air Division, based near the eastern city of Hangzhou); GPS-guided precision-guided munitions like the 500kg FT-1 bomb and 250kg FT-3 bomb; and the LS-6 500kg bomb that comes fitted with glide kit comprising twin pop-out wings. The LS-6 has a range of 40km when launched from an altitude of 30,000 feet. Yet another air-launched PGM qualified for the JH-7A is the 500kg LT-2 laser-guided bomb. Laser target acquisition-cum-designation for this bomb is provided by a pod developed and built by CLETRI. The LT-2 is essentially a licence-built KAB-500L laser-guided bomb that has a nominal weight of 500kg (1,102lb), and comes fitted with a semi-active laser seeker and guidance fins, turning it into a guided, unpowered glide bomb. The LT-2 is 3.05 metres (10 feet) long and weighs 525kg (1,155lb). Its warhead comprises 450kg (990lb) of the total weight, of which roughly 50% is the blast-effect high-explosive warhead. It has a CEP of 7 metres (23 feet). Since the early 1990s, CLETRI has been developing laser designation pods as well as low-level flight navigation pods, whose existence was revealed only in June 2005. Despite this, the PLAAF and PLA Navy have both imported an initial 10 SAPSAN-E target designation pods each from Russia’s Urals Optical and Electromechanical Plant for their Su-30MKK and Su-30MK2 combat aircraft. The SAPSAN-E pod weighs 250kg, and its two-axis gimbal-stabilised sensor section contains a TV (thermal imaging) channel, ranging channel, laser designation channel, and a temperature control system. It will be used primarily for designating targets for the KAB-1500T TV-guided bomb and the Raduga Kh-59ME turbojet-powered anti-ship cruise missile whose flight qualification trials for China were concluded by December 2005. The Kh-59ME comes fitted with an active radar seeker and advanced inertial guidance systems, and a special computer interface allowing it to use targeting data from the Su-30MK2. It has a range of 288km (186 miles).
The SEAD version of the JH-7A comes equipped with the KJ-8602BC radar warning receiver (operating in the 2-40GHz frequency range), the internally-mounted KG-8605A noise/deception jammer (operating in the 8.5-18GHz frequency range), and up to two underwing-mounted KG-300G jamming pods (both operating in the 6.5-17.5GHz frequency range). Also carried are up to four ramjet-powered YJ-98 supersonic anti-radiation missiles each with 200km range. The YJ-98’s operational clearance trials were successfully concluded in 2007 at an instrumented missile firing trials range located in the Bohai Bay. It features a liquid-fuelled ramjet propulsion system, and a wideband seeker that covers all the required frequencies in a single unit. Series production got underway last year, following which it was also flight-qualified on the Shenyang J-8IIM combat aircraft.
AVIC has also developed for the PLAAF’s JH-7A and J-8IIM the Xi’an twin-engined H-6U aerial refuelling tanker. For the PLA Navy, however, this aircraft is called the H-6DU. Fitted with a hose-and-drogue refuelling system comprising twin underwing-mounted RDC-1 aerial refuelling pods, the H-6U and H-6DU were inducted into service in the mid-1990s. It was during the ASIANDEX defence technology exhibition in Beijing in mid-1988 that China first revealed the scale-model of an aerial refuelling tanker aircraft using the H-6 intermediate-range bomber’s airframe. The first H-6U prototype made its maiden flight in 1990. The first successful aerial refuelling sortie involving the H-6U and a J-8IIM followed a year later, with the first 20 operational H-6U being inducted into service in 1996. During the 1999 National Day military parade held in Beijing, two H-6Us escorted by four J-8Ds flew over the Tiananmen Square. The H-6U’s newly built airframes lack the glass-built nose section found on the H-6 bomber. Each H-6U/DU tanker carries two RDC-1 hose-and-drogue refuelling pods under its wings, which are capable of refuelling two J-8IIMs or two JH-7As simultaneously, and up to six J-10A/B M-MRCAs in one sortie. Like the H-6K medium-bomber, the H-6U/DU comes with glass cockpit avionics, ring laser gyro-based inertial navigation system, nose-mounted colour weather radar, and a TACAN for all-weather navigation out to a distance of 200km. The aircraft’s electronic countermeasures suite includes a radar warning receiver and countermeasures dispensers. The PLAAF’s Leiyang air base-based 8th Air Division based in Hunan Province operates around 10 H-6Us, while the PLA Navy’s 9th Air Division, operating from Lingshui Air Station in Hainan Island, flies three H-6DUs tankers. Both the H-6U and H-6DU can each carry 37 tonnes of aviation fuel inside its internal tanks and can transfer 18.5 tonnes of fuel to the combat aircraft. The RDC-1 refuelling pod has been developed by AVIC’s China Institute of Aero Accessories. The pods’ operator station is located inside the original tail gun turret on the H-6. The aircraft has a three-man aircrew complement, maximum internal fuel capacity of 37 tonnes, refueling capability of 18.5 tonnes, maximum cruise speed of Mach 0.75 (786kph), maximum range of 6,000km, and a service ceiling of 13.1km. In future, the H-6U is likely to be exported in limited numbers to the air forces of Iran and Pakistan.
source : Tempur