China acquires the Tu-22M production line; intends to build 36 bombers

Well, lookie here. China Times reports that the PRC has bought the Tu-22M production line from Russia and intends to build at least 36 Tu-22MB bombers domestically. Because China lacks some of the components for these aircraft, it will import them from Russia, a willing seller.

Thus, China will, by the end of this decade, have at least 36 to complement its H-6 bomber fleet. In other words, it will have a long range bomber force like Russia’s Dalnaya Aviatsia (Long-Range Aviation).

Dr Carlo Kopp’s question whether China would acquire such a fleet or not (in 2010, he said it “remains to be seen”) has now been answered.

The Tu-22M can carry a freefall nuclear bomb (like the ones that China’s H-6 bombers can carry) and 6 cruise missiles of various types – nuclear and conventional, anti-ship and land-attack cruise missiles alike. Such bombers could be used to strike ground targets far away or to attack American ships in and even beyond the Second Island Chain in the Western Pacific.

In general, this demonstrates that China is now working hard to close one of the few gaps that remain between it and the US, and that it is on track to become the world’s largest military power by no later than the early 2020s.


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