May 18, 2011: The Chinese Navy has converted its 2nd Bomber Division into a unit for its growing fleet of specialized aircraft. These include H-6 tankers, float planes, and several types of EW (Electronic Warfare) aircraft. Most of these aircraft are apparently for supporting the growing number of H-6 bombers armed with anti-ship missiles. Here, China is imitating a Russian tactic developed during the 1980s.
Russian bombers armed with cruise missiles were seen as a major threat by the U.S. Navy during the Cold War. China appears to be copying the Russian playbook. That starts with modifying more and more of their H-6 naval bombers to carry different types of anti-ship missiles. China is also developing new missiles with higher speed and better guidance systems. Finally, aerial tankers and specialized electronic warfare aircraft are coming into service to help find warships far at sea, and suppress some, or all, of the electronic defenses. This is all aided by a growing fleet of space satellites that can monitor large areas of ocean in the west Pacific.