Danger from Hong-10

Following up an earlier blog about China buying the entire Tu-22M Bacfire production line lock, stock and barrel from the Russian Kazan facility for a mere $1.5 billion (when our redoubtable air force has spent more than that amount on a propeller trainer aircraft!), the Chinese discovered that some of the manufacturing jigs secured from the Ukraine (which was part of the Tu-22 assembly line) simply fell apart. This the Chinese, working 24/7, have sought to get around by setting up their own jigs, and otherwise to get the aircraft project underway. The Tu-22 that will emerge — designated Hong-10 — is what a source said was a souped up “M ++” version. It will come complete with an AESA air-to-air and surface attack radar, and ability to fire surface-attack long range cruise missiles from its rotary weapons platform nestled within the H-10 fuselage, etc.

Apart from helping realize the Chinese defensive/offensive design of using the Backfire in tandem with the Dong Feng-21D anti-ship ballistic missiles to attack US carrier groups, and force them out of the second island chain and push them to the line of the “third island chain” of the Hawaiian islands, the Tu-22 poses a mortal danger to India. The PLA will not anymore be hampered by the problems of embarking ordnance-loaded aircraft from the high-altitude air bases on the Tibetan plateau on attack missions. These can now be launched against even Indian peninsular targets from deep within the Chengdu MR.

It is a capability this analyst has been advocating IAF should have, but is something the determinedly sub-strategic-minded air force leadership has time and again passed up, preferring planes with lesser range instead. India was first offered Tu-22 in mid-1971 but the mission to Moscow under Air Marshal Sheodeo Singh chose the MiG-23 BN, despite a squadron of the Tu-22s with IAF roundels painted on them being parked at a military air base outside the city ready to fly to India. Worse, as I have detailed in my book “Nuclear Weapons and Indian Security”, IAF played dog in the manger and prevented the more strategically-oriented Indian Navy from acquiring this aircraft! India could have bought up the Tu-22 production line anytime in the last two decades — it being so offered by a cash-strapped Russia. It would have provided India with a manned option for strike sorties against targets in deepest China and anywhere in the extended Indian Ocean region. When, oh God!, when will our air force, operating in an open strategic medium acquire a strategic mindset?

About Bharat Karnad

Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, he was Member of the (1st) National Security Advisory Board and the Nuclear Doctrine-drafting Group, and author, among other books of, 'Nuclear Weapons and Indian Security: The Realist Foundations of Strategy', 'India's Nuclear Policy' and most recently, 'Why India is Not a Great Power (Yet)'. Educated at the University of California (undergrad and grad), he was Visiting Scholar at Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania, the Shanghai Institutes of International Studies, and Henry L. Stimson Center, Washington, DC.
This entry was posted in Asian geopolitics, China, China military, Geopolitics, Great Power imperatives, India's China Policy, India's strategic thinking and policy, Indian Air Force, Indian Navy, Indian Ocean, Military Acquisitions, Missiles, Nuclear Policy & Strategy, Relations with Russia, Russia, russian assistance, South Asia, South East Asia, Technology transfer. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Danger from Hong-10

  1. akash says:

    IS this news confirmed or is it mere supposition?Can you detail a source,,

    • That Russia has sold a number of Tu-22 M3s with production line to China is a fact. You may wish to trawl Russian defence websites — I had access to a newsreport from these sources, can’t seem instantly and lack the time to locate it again! That the Chinese will reverse engineer this aircraft, and graft most of the advanced Backfire tech onto their H-10 is a certainty. That’s what happened with the Israeli Lavi. Unlike us, they know what they are doing.

  2. Garg says:

    China has the resources and industrial maturity to build Tu-22 type planes even without buying the line from Russia. India cannot stop China’s military progress.

    The problem for India is insufficient and inefficient military-industrial base. India has kept military production for the public sector, which is a white elephant. China has more than 10 large aviation companies building fighters, transports, helicopters and UAVs. How many India has??? India has created only State monopolies with very poor work culture.

    Unless India fixes its military-industrial base, any hope of strategic parity with China is a pipe-dream.

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