Monday, May 6, 2013

Anyone can ID this aircraft seen at a PLAN bomber base? [SOLVED]

© Google

The above is a Google Earth satellite image, taken in January 2010 of Changzhou-Benniu (常州奔牛) airport/airbase in Jiangsu Province, China. It is a civil/military aerodrome, and the military side is the home to a regiment of People's Liberation Army - Navy (PLAN) Xi'an H-6 bombers. So it's no surprise to see H-6s parked on the ramp (like the aircraft on the left in the above photo) on the satellite images of the base taken at various times.

But it's the aircraft on the right that left me scratching my head. Using Google Earth's measurement tool, it comes up to an approximate length of 20m and a wingspan of 18m, with air intakes on either side of the fuselage and twin exhausts just after the wing trailing edge. The wing chord of this unidentified aircraft also appears to be thick, reminding one of the British Buccaneer. It appears to be a military aircraft of some description and is painted in the same white scheme as the PLANAF H-6s, but the plan view and wing shape does no appear to look like any aircraft known (by me) to be in the PLA (either PLAAF or PLANAF) inventory.

So, if you know, or would like to hazard a guess at what the aircraft is, do leave a comment below. It might just turn out to be something really prosaic and nothing earth-shattering, but I'll be most appreciative if it could be identified. Sorry, no prizes for the right answer though! (Other than perhaps a smug sense of self-satisfaction for the person who gets it right)

And if you would like to see the image on Google Earth for yourself, go to 31°55′07″N 119°49′20″E. Remember the image was dated Jan 3 2010, so you have to access Google's historical imagery to see this.

[UPDATE]: Thanks to Blitzo over at Key Publishing Forums, the mystery is now solved. Below is a photo, first posted at China Defense Forum last year, showing that our mystery "plane" is a mockup (for training purposes maybe?) of some sort. As expected, there was a perfectly logical answer, and nothing sinister whatsoever.


  1. Why put it on the ramp next to the H-6, though? if a mock up?

  2. Some sort of training? The mockup is usually parked at some of the revetments/dispersals.