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SOURCE: GLOBAL TIMES

An H-6K bomber of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force carrying two new-type missiles arrived in Zhuhai, South China’s Guangdong Province on Thursday in preparation for the upcoming Airshow China 2022.

Military observers said that this is the first time the bomber has displayed what seems to be its air-launched ballistic missiles to the public. The H-6K carried one such missile on each wing, according to a video report by China Central Television (CCTV). The exact type of the weapon is not yet clear, but it seems like a kind of air-to-ground missile with a design very close to a ballistic missile, the CCTV report said.

While the designation of the missile also remained unknown as of press time, “2PZD-21” was written on the body of a missile, according to the CCTV report.

Previously, the H-6K had displayed its capabilities to carry subsonic and supersonic cruise missiles, and this could be the first time the general public has seen the H-6K carrying a type of air-launched ballistic missile, the report said.

It is expected that this H-6K with the missiles will be put on static display at the Airshow China 2022.

The missiles carried by the H-6K have some resemblances to the Russian Kinzhal hypersonic air-launched ballistic missile by appearance, so it is possible that this type of new missile is also hypersonic, Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Thursday.

It can likely hit stationary targets as well as slowly moving targets like aircraft carriers, Song said.

Being air-launched usually provides a missile with extra range compared with being launched from the ground. The aircraft can also launch a missile from a location closer to the enemy, making the missile more difficult to intercept, analysts said.

This type of missile could also have ground-launched and vessel-launched variants, Song said.

It is also possible that other types of tactical aircraft, like fighter jets and fighter bombers, can carry such a missile under their bellies, observers said.

Another new face that arrived in Zhuhai on Thursday is a variant of the KJ-500 early warning aircraft with what seems to be an aerial refueling probe above its nose, according to a set of photos released by the state-owned Aviation Industry Corp of China on the day.

This means the new KJ-500 likely can receive aerial refueling, which can greatly enhance the early warning aircraft’s range and endurance for extended missions, observers said.

The Airshow China 2022 is scheduled to be held from November 8 to 13 in Zhuhai.