|Arthur Dominic Villasanta |||Dec 08, 2016 09:48 AM EST|
The airing on TV of computer generated images showing China's Xian H-20 stealth bomber by state-owned broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) has apparently triggered a spate of discussions that's revealed more information about this hush-hush bomber.
Some of the most interesting comments about the next-generation H-20 were revealed by Rear Admiral Yin Zhuo, Director of the People Liberation Army Navy's (PLAN) Expert Consultation Committee.
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He said having the H-20 will become one of the symbols of the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) as a strategic service.
Adm. Yin pointed out that China has never developed such a heavy and long-range strategic bomber before. He said China's current heavy bomber, the Xian H-6, isn't a true strategic bomber because it lacks the necessary long-range.
Asked when the H-20 will make it debut, Admiral Yin answered that the Chinese people should have some patience.
He praised the H-20, saying this stealth bomber will certainly be on par with the United States' Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit. He confirmed the H-20 will be a stealth strategic bomber and that it might take 10 years to develop.
He noted China has gained some experience in stealth technology from the development of Chengdu J-20 and the Shenyang J-31 stealth fighters, so the material and design isn't a big problem.
China has also developed the Xian Y-20 heavy transport aircraft, the Comac C-919 jet airliner and other large aircraft. The technical expertise gained with these planes will be useful in developing strategic bombers, he said.
Adm Yin revealed the cruise missiles, nuclear bombs and other weapons that will arm the H-20 are all in place. This means now is the time for China to develop strategic bombers.
In September, General Ma Xiaotian, PLAAF Commanding General, confirmed China is developing the H-20.
"We are now developing a new generation of long-range bomber, and you'll see it in the future," said Gen. Ma.
The H-20 is expected to have a subsonic low-observable "flying wing" configuration similar to the U.S. B-2 Spirit that's been operational since 1997. The H-20 is expected to enter service by 2025.
China's first stealth bomber will be developed and produced by Xi'an Aircraft Industrial Corporation, the same firm that makes the H-6K.
China's decision to go ahead with its own stealth bomber seems to have been triggered by its failure to buy Russia's supersonic Tupolev Tu-22M3 variable-sweep wing, long-range strategic and maritime strike bomber developed by the Tupolev Design Bureau.
This Russian bomber has a combat radius of 2,400 kilometers and can carry up to 24,000 kilograms of bombs and missiles.
Western military analysts said China needs the H-20 to deny the U.S. from entering the "First Island Chain" from Alaska to the Philippines, and to cement its military leadership in Asia.
China's development of the H-2 is being helped along by classified information stolen by Noshir Gowadia, an Indian convicted in 2011 for selling U.S. aerospace secrets to China.
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