China’s H-20 stealth bomber is expected to be unveiled this year, with production seen getting underway later this decade. It’s seen as the culmination of China’s long quest to develop a long-range bomber.
Back in May, the South China Morning Post noticed some pictures of the design that had been published by a state-run defense corporation, and speculated about the bomber’s eventual capability.
The pictures were published by Modern Weaponry, which is an organ of the state-run China North Industries Group.
“The four pictures suggested that the aircraft has a weapon bay, two adjustable tail wings, an airborne radar at the front and two stealth air intakes on both sides, all covered in a dark grey radar-absorbent material,” South China Morning Post said. “Its shape is very similar to that of aircraft shown in a promotional video in January by another state firm, Aviation Industry Corporation of China, or AVIC, to mark the 60th anniversary of the founding of Xian Aircraft Industrial Corporation, or XAC – which is reportedly responsible for developing the H-20.”
Times Now News had reported back in June that the H-20 stealth bomber was in “final tests.”
“China is, reportedly, conducting final trials of its mysterious Xian H-20 strategic stealth bomber at its Hotan airbase, near eastern Ladakh. According to some sources, the H-20 bomber is seen as a crucial asset in tilting the balance of power in China’s favour at the Sino-Indian border but it remains unclear when the aircraft will be fully operational,” the outlet said. “The trials, reportedly, commenced on June 8 and are expected to last until June 22 which, incidentally, also marks the 100th year of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC).”
Jon Grevatt, a defense analyst at Janes, commented to SCMP about the jet and its capabilities.
“So that means the strategic kind of advantage of that aircraft is that it would be able to strike as what they call a strategic bomber, so it will be able to strike targets a long distance away, perhaps in the second island chain and beyond,” he said. “That means it would threaten US assets and interests in the Asia-Pacific. If the aircraft becomes operational, it has the potential to be a game-changer.”
Earlier this year, the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies warned in a report that the new H-20 stealth bomber stood to give China a “truly intercontinental” capacity.
“Armed with nuclear and conventional stand-off missiles, the H-20 would represent a major break from previous PLAAF (PLA Air Force) doctrine and equipment development practice, the report said.
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.