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    China New Stealth Bomber: Xian H-20

    China has already developed her indigenously built new generation strategic Xian H-20 supersonic stealth bomber and it is likely to be ready for delivery at the end of 2020-21 year.
    Is the Xian H-20 stealth bomber set to make its first public appearance in November? Reports from several outlets indicate yes, and the timeline of the bomber’s development would seem to make the appearance plausible.

    The Xian H-20 is a projected subsonic stealth bomber design of the People's Liberation Army Air Force. It is referred to as a strategic project by the People's Liberation Army. The H-20 will be the first dedicated strategic bomber developed by China. The United States expects the H-20 to be able to carry nuclear weapons. The aircraft may enter service around 2025.

    Chinese military officials want a strategic bomber capable of striking targets beyond the second island chain without aerial refueling, while carrying a payload of at least 10 tons. Aviation researcher Fu Qianshao stated that China's long-range bomber should have a range of at least 12,000 kilometers and 20 tons of payload capacity.

    The H-20 is a large, subsonic stealth bomber similar in form and appearance to the B-2 Spirit, as well as the projected Russian PAK DA and the B-21 Raider. It will reportedly have an advanced electronics suite similar to that expected on the Raider, and a combat radius that would put U.S. bases in Hawaii and Australia at risk.

    The H-20 will be the first dedicated strategic bomber developed solely by China. Previously, the PLAAF and the PLAN relied to the Xian H-6 bomber, itself a derivative of the Soviet Tupolev-16. The H-6 has, over the years, been tasked with the same missions as most other strategic bombers, including recon, conventional strike, nuclear strike, and naval interdiction.

    Given the lifespans of modern bombers, reliance on an old design is hardly unusual; the U.S. continues to fly B-52s, while Russia flies Tu-95s, both of which were designed around the same time as the H-6. Indeed, most analysts expect the H-6 to remain in service even after the H-20 become operational.

    The expectation that bombers will contribute to naval operations has increased worldwide, although generally air forces have allocated this mission to older, conventionally shaped bombers rather than newer stealth aircraft. The H-20, using both long and short-ranged weapons, could contribute to China’s anti-access system of systems by extending its range, lethality, and penetration capabilities. Putting US staging areas, such as Pearl Harbor, at risk of strike would complicate U.S. operational and force planning across the Pacific.

    The first appearance of the H-20 does not imply that it will enter service anytime soon. The first public flight of the B-2 came eight years before initial service, and the J-20 stealth fighter had its first flight six years before entering regular service.

    Moreover, the introduction of the H-20 is not obviously a response to any particular U.S. action. Still, given the increasing political tensions between China and the United States, including the very public demonstration flight of two B-1Bs near Taiwan earlier this week, it makes sense for the PLAAF to make obvious its own contribution to China’s long-range strategic defense.

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