PLA Air Force H-6K bombers flew several thousand kilometres for nearly 10 straight hours during a recent drill.
They set a new Chinese record for continuous flight time and range while flying over the sea, according to local media.
The H-6 is a license built version of the Soviet Tupolev Tu-16 twin-engine jet bomber, built for the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force.
Delivery of the Tu-16 to China began in 1958, and the Xi’an Aircraft Industrial Corporation signed a license production agreement with the USSR to build the type in the late 1950s.
The first Chinese Tu-16, or “H-6” as it was designated in Chinese service, flew in 1959. Production was performed by the plant at Xian, with at least 150 built into the 1990s. China is estimated to currently operate around 120 of the aircraft.
The H-6K, first flying on 5 January 2007, entered service in October 2009 during the celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China and is claimed to make China the fourth country yo operate a strategic bomber after US, Russia and the United Kingdom.
With a reinforced structure making use of composite materials, enlarged engine inlets for Russian Soloviev D-30 turbofan engines giving a claimed combat radius of 3,500 kilometres and a glass cockpit with large size LCD multi-function display, the H-6K is a significantly more modern aircraft than earlier versions.
The bomb bay has been replaced by extra fuel capacity, and six underwing pylons for CJ-10A cruise missiles. The rear 23mm guns and gunner position are replaced by electronic components.
In 2015, about 15 H-6Ks were in service.