Video Above: If China Invades Taiwan, how Does U.S. React?
Chinese bombers are dropping bombs, conducting live-fire exercises and laying mines over areas of the South China Sea and Taiwan Straits in a clear effort to show force and attempt to deter the U.S. and its Western allies from intervening to protect Taiwan.
China's H-6J Drops Bombs in Live Fire Exercise
The latest Chinese bomber, the H-6J, practiced bomb dropping and sea mine-laying operations in a series of coordinated live-fire exercises using high-explosive aerial bomb, the Chinese Communist Party backed Global Times newspaper said.
A few of the H-6J bombers took off at night and performed missions under heavy clouds and inclement weather conditions.
The paper said the H-6J was officially revealed by China’s Ministry of Defense just last year and it is capable of carrying YJ-12 air-launched anti-ship missiles.
“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,” the paper says.
The bomber live-fire exercise, however, may not have actually demonstrated extremely consequential combat capability. A large, non-stealthy bomber such as the H-6J would only be truly impactful in a great power warfare engagment in a few limited respects.
Recommended for You
The PLA-AF would need to have established air superiority in order for the H-6J to fly low altitude mine laying or precision bombing missions, something which would not be at all assured in any kind of great power confrontation. The US and its allies may or may not have advanced air defenses in the South China Sea, however there are established systems in Taiwan, Japan and South Korea.
A bomber such as the H-6J would be extremely vulnerable to ship-launched US Navy 5th generation aircraft and easily seen by drones and networked ground surveillance systems. An aircraft as large as the H-6J could also be vulnerable to anti-aircraft fire coming from surface ships, depending upon how low it was flying to lay mines in littoral areas.
Video Above: Is China's Posturing with Taiwan and act or Foreshadowing a War?
The real added value when it comes to the functional impact of a large, B-52-like heavy bomber would more likely be in its standoff weapons such as extremely high altitude precision bombs or the use of long-range precision cruise missiles able to be effective at stand-off ranges. Otherwise, precision bombing missions would need to come from an undetected, high-altitude stealth bomber such as China’s new H-20 or be executed by fighter jets during or after a war to establish air supremacy.
Should the US operate amphibs and carriers in the region in any measurable capacity, sea-launched 5th-generation aircraft such as the F-35B and F-35C would likely make it extremely difficult for large Chinese bombers to operate with any measure of success.
Kris Osborn is the defense editor for the National Interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Master's Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.