Key point: China's H-6 bombers can carry long-range missiles that could take out U.S. ships from afar.
The Chinese air force has modified a small number of H-6 bombers apparently to carry a very large new anti-ship missile.
The new munition, possibly a variant of the DF-21D ballistic anti-ship missile, could pose a serious danger to U.S. Navy vessels operating in the western Pacific. Aircraft carriers, in particular, could be at risk.
The new H-6N variant of the venerable Chinese bomber -- itself a clone of the Soviet Tu-16 -- first appeared over Beijing during preparations for celebrations marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Military parades and fly-overs are scheduled for Oct. 1, 2019.
The H-6Ns feature an under-fuselage recess that could accommodate a single, very large missile. The DF-21D is more than 30 feet long and weighs around 32,000 pounds. It can travel as far as 1,300 miles with a 1,200-pound warhead.
“Experts say that there at least four of these aircraft presently assigned to a People's Liberation Army Air Force bomber brigade in China's Central Theater Command region,” Joseph Trevithick wrote at The War Zone.