As the U.S. continues to develop the B-21 Raider, a long-range, stealth strategic bomber, peers and rivals around the world are working to stay competitive. While Russia works on the PAK DA, Communist China is trying to counter the future backbone of the United States Air Force’s strategic bomber force with a design of their own.
This new bomber, which will likely be operated by the People’s Liberation Army Air Force, is being called the H-20. Details remain sparse, but reports state that it will have a top speed of 600 miles per hour and a maximum range of 5,282 miles. Although we’re not certain about the ordnance it’ll carry, it’s likely that it’ll carry a variety of dumb bombs, smart bombs, and missiles, just like the B-2.
Currently, the People’s Liberation Army Air Force leans heavily on the H-6 Badger as the primary airframe in their strategic bomber force. This plane is a far cry from the original Soviet Tu-16 on which it’s based. The current version, according to MilitaryFactory.com, has a range of 3,728 miles and a top speed of 652 miles per hour. Unlike the up-and-coming H-20, the H-6 doesn’t have stealth technology, and while its range allows it to operate against naval units in the South China Sea, it doesn’t have the reach to hit American bases in Guam or Okinawa.
The Chinese Communists used the H-6 to send a message in December 2016, when one of these bombers flew along the so-called “nine-dash line,” which delineates Chinese claims in the South China Sea. About 180 of these bombers were built and the People’s Liberation Army Air Force has roughly 120 H-6s in service, with another 30 in service with the People’s Liberation Army Navy Air Force.
The H-20 is slated to enter service in 2025, coincidentally around the time that the B-21 Raider is set to deploy.