Able to fly up to 5,300 miles and launch hypersonic cruise missiles undetected by radar. The description of an aircraft with these characteristics makes points to the Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit, the first stealth bomber in the world, or the newbie B-21 Raider. However, this mysterious plane is the Xian H-20 that China is expected to reveal to the world by the end of this year.
According to military sources on the South China Morning Post, Beijing is considering making the stealth bomber’s first public appearance during the Zhuhai Airshow in November.
“The Zhuhai Airshow is expected to become a platform to promote China’s image and its success in pandemic control – telling the outside world that the contagion did not have any big impacts on Chinese defense industry enterprises,” a source said to SCMP.
With the H-20, China will complete the nuclear triad by having ballistic missiles, submarines and bombers capable of long-range attacks on other nations. It is no coincidence that the news had repercussions in neighboring countries such as Australia, South Korea and Japan.
The Chinese aerospace industry has experienced two distinct moments in recent years. If the development of civilian airplanes has been going on for a long time and has not yet reached its peak, military aircraft are advancing at a fast pace.
The People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) already operates a reasonable number of aircraft developed in China, alongside Russian aircraft manufactured under license.
The great star of this fleet is the fifth generation Chengdu J-20 fighter with supposed stealth capability. The model, which is equivalent to the US Air Force F-22 Raptor, would have entered service about a year ago. Despite a delay, the new interceptor surpassed the Russian Sukhoi Su-57 as the world’s third stealth fighter.
On the other hand, the strategic division of the PLAAF has for decades lacked an effective bomber. For 50 years, China has had the H-16, a licensed version of the Tupolev Tu-16, an old and small Soviet bomber, as its main missile vector.
For this reason, the introduction of the H-20 is considered essential to equate Chinese military power with that of the United States. To date, however, little is known about the jet, which has been imagined by several artists as a local variant of the B-2, with a flying wing shape.
According to reports, the bomber would have a maximum take-off weight of 200 tons and a payload of 45 tons. A common Chinese problem concerns engines. Like the J-20, the new plane is also waiting for a high-performance turbofan that is still under development, but is lagging behind.
The proposed interim solution is the use of Russian engines or the WS-10 turbofan, designed in China based on the western civilian engine CFM56. For this reason, analysts point out that the US is not afraid of the H-20 because it performs poorly and that it would not pose a threat to the country’s armed forces. Still, better not to doubt the Chinese’s overcoming power.