A H-6J bomber of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy recently participated in a live-fire exercise in the South China Sea, practicing bomb dropping on islands and sea mine-laying.
This type of aircraft was officially revealed by China’s Defense Ministry only last year.
Affiliated with the Naval Aviation Force under the PLA Southern Theater Command, a regiment based in South China’s Hainan Province organized a drill involving the actual use of high-explosive aerial bombs and sea bottom mines, state-owned China Central Television (CCTV) reported on Friday.
Several bombers took off at night, formed aerial formations and reached the designated sea area at daybreak under complex weather conditions, including heavy clouds. The aircraft first laid the sea mines, then proceeded to drop the bombs, which are characterized by their fast speed and large blast radius. The bombs hit targets on islands and reefs, the report said.
After the first wave of bombing, the bombers returned to base, received thorough checks and were resupplied with munitions and fuel before taking off again for the second air raid.
The drill showed that the H-6J maintains its traditional bombing capability, even though it can also be armed with standoff weapons like anti-ship and land-attack cruise missiles, a Beijing-based military expert told the Global Times on Sunday.
Bombs are more efficient and cheaper than missiles, and they come in particularly handy when bombers are not threatened by hostile fire. This could be when friendly forces have already seized air superiority and cleared anti-aircraft fire, the expert said, noting that on the doorstep of the Chinese mainland, such as the South China Sea and the Taiwan Straits, similar situations will occur to PLA bombers more often than not.