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If a WS-15 installation is combined with the F-111F’s thrust loading (mass compared with thrust, strongly affecting flight performance), the Chinese tactical bomber would have a gross weight of 72 metric tons (160,000 lb.), making it 60% larger than the old U.S. type. At the lower end of the scale, a WS-10 engine set combined with the JH-7’s relatively low thrust loading (and therefore high performance) results in a gross weight of 41 metric tons; in that case the tactical bomber would be a little smaller than the F-111. Other combinations of thrust loading and engine type give intermediate sizes.
The smallest size seems unlikely, because of the DIA’s reference to the aircraft as having medium range, in comparison with a strategic bomber’s long range. A highly powered 41-metric-ton aircraft is not likely to achieve anything like the “medium” range of the H-6K. The medium-range description also probably rules out the possibility of the tactical bomber having a new and relatively small engine.
The “fighter-bomber” designation sets an upper limit on the possible size of the aircraft. Conceivably, a twin WS-15 installation could be combined with a high thrust loading, like that of the Tupolev Tu-22M3 supersonic medium bomber. In that case the aircraft would have a gross weight of 90 metric tons—but neither the Chinese nor the Pentagon could call that a fighter-bomber.