|Arthur Dominic Villasanta |||Mar 04, 2015 04:09 AM EST|
China's biggest bomber, the Xi'an H-6
On the heels of the United States' plans to go ahead with building a stealth "China Bomber" is a recent announcement China intends to build its own stealth bomber.
China's planned "H-20" stealth bomber is expected to be a subsonic low-observable "flying wing" configuration similar to the U.S. B-2 Spirit that has been operational since 1997.
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China's first stealth bomber will probably be developed and produced by Xi'an Aircraft Industrial Corporation, believes Aviation Week & Space Technology. The H-20 is expected to enter service by 2025.
China's decision to go ahead with its own stealth bomber seems to have been triggered by its failure to buy the supersonic Tupolev Tu-22M3 variable-sweep wing, long-range strategic and maritime strike bomber developed by Russia's 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. They also believe the H-20 could have an unmanned combat aerial vehicle version along the lines of the upcoming "Long Range Strike-Bomber" or LRS-B of the U.S. Air Force.
This next generation stealth bomber, which will succeed the B-2 Spirit, will have very long range and the ability to loiter for extended periods over distant targets such as those in the South China Sea and Asia, hence its nickname, the "China Bomber."
The LRS-B is intended to "manage" China in a future conflict, said Andrew Krepinevich, a defense policy analyst who currently serves as President of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.
The LRS-B is being designed to defeat low-frequency radars as effectively as high frequency sets. It will eventually be capable of delivering the entire range of air delivered nuclear weapons in the US arsenal, a capability only currently afforded USAF B-52 bombers.
Ultimately, the USAF will transform the LRS-B into the world's first unmanned or robotic strategic bomber with unmatched endurance.
In the unmanned role, the LRS-B will be used in non-nuclear combat to rain down guided missiles or guided bombs onto land or naval targets. The nuclear capable versions of the bomber will be manned.
What will distinguish the LRS-B from the current B-1or B-2 bombers is the LRS-B's enhanced stealthiness and its capability to loiter or hover over a battlefield for long periods of time, attacking multiple targets of opportunity with precision.
It's being designed to survive daylight raids over heavily defended enemy territory. The LRS-B will carry a weapons load of 14,000 lbs. to 28,000 lbs (6,350 kg to 12,700 kg).
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