China has deployed its new electronic-warfare aircraft in its recent combat maneuvers, a move many military experts believe will help boost Chinese naval power in the disputed South China Sea.
Though already in service for 10 years, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy’s H-6G bomber has been upgraded with two electronic countermeasures (ECM) pods attached underneath its wings. PLA’s South China Sea Fleet has already deployed the aircraft in its most recent combat maneuvers in December 2017, marking the first time that the bomber has played a supporting role in electronic warfare, according to China Central Television.
“The upgrade of H-6G has extended the aircraft’s fighting range, which can now cover basically the whole South China Sea, as well as waters in the southeastern part of Taiwan,” an anonymous military expert told Global Times, who added that more ECMs can be added to the aircraft to disrupt more enemy radar.
According to experts, the upgraded aircraft can be used to degrade the effectiveness of enemy radar and radio systems by using radar jamming and deception methods, as well as attacking various targets on the sea surface from a long distance.
In addition to the H-6G, other PLA fighter jets, including the JH-7 bomber, have been equipped with similar ECM pods to improve the army’s combat capability.
“Using the ECM pods on fighters is the most efficient and effective way,” Song Zhongping, a military expert, told Global Times, as the main role of such fighters “is to obstruct the enemies’ electronic jamming devices.”