Another step further was the development of the H-8 which was suggested even before the H-6I program had started. The main reason for that completely new design was the still limited weapon load and range, which prevented the H-6 from being used in the long-range strategic mission. As a result the PLAAF requested for the development of a long-range bomber for which the Aeronautical Engineering Department Institute 603 got its order on 23rd March 1970 to begin development.
Different concepts were studied each with a different Powerplant or number of engines but the main design itself was borrowed from the H-6 enlarged and aerodynamically refined. All concepts we know so far featured mid-mounted sweepback wings and a Tu-16-like tail arrangement. The fuselage comprised front and rear electronic compartments with a large bomb-bay (8.6 m 1.8 m 2.72 m) in the centre of the aircraft which is found in between two internal fuel tanks. The attack munitions consist of 1-3 air-to-ground missiles. The bomb-bay’s maximum capability was 18 tons and 100-9,000 kg of stores could be hung under the wings. Self-defence ranges from onboard cannons to rockets to ECM systems. The crew consisted of six people with the front compartment providing space for the pilot, co-pilot, navigator and radar navigator, whereas the rear compartment provided room for the gunner and a radio communicator.
The main onboard systems include third generation navigation/bombing systems and Type 414 radar guided landing system. Wingspan was to be 46.47 m and the length 48.50 m.
The H-8 was to be powered by four Type 910 turbofan engines, each with a thrust of 107.9 kN or – as a backup plan – six 6 JT-3D-3B turbofan engines, each rated at 80 kN in airliner-style nacelles. It seems that studies even included a much larger bomber looking featuring a non-circular fuselage with a Tu-95-like tail powered by six turbofan engines of an unknown kind which looked like the one on that concept drawing.
In the end only the H-6I reached the test-flight stage and was finally abandoned like the H-8. Filling the capability gap was once again the task of another H-6A’s upgraded to “new” versions.
After that latest H-8 there were several rumors about a supersonic H-9 sometimes described similar to a Tu-22 or Tu-135 and even the Sukhoi T-4, but (for my opinion) these are all rumors and all published pictures are misinterpreted Russian or Soviet wind-tunnel models. Latest considerations suggest that there may have been studies without any H-x designation and the PLAAF still soldieres on only with improved H-6 versions until a possible replacement (maybe the Su-32FN/Su-34) can replace them.
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