H -20 Intercontinental Stealth Bomber, China beyond Pacific Ocean
A century after German tries of Stealth technology, earth faces two superpowers capable of hitting each other across Pacific using Inter Continental Stealth Bombers and Hypersonic Nuclear weapons
During World War I, when Germans were experimenting with Cellulose acetate to lower the visibility of the aircrafts on radar, who thought that after 100 years, we will be dealing with a superpower and a potential superpower, having Intercontinental Stealth bombers to hit one another across the Pacific Ocean with Hypersonic Nuclear weapons.
A Nuclear Triad:
Although the reports were coming in even 2015, China announced the development of Xian H-20 in 2016, since then the US Department of Defense and Military experts have been monitoring what this bomber can bring for Beijing and its enemies. One thing we know for sure is that H-20 is going to complete the Nuclear triad for China. A Concept from the Cold War era to have Land based Intercontinental ballistic missiles, Ballistic missile submarines and Aircraft capable of carrying Nuclear weapons over long ranges, to make sure that neither of the nuclear superpower can destroy the other totally in the first strike and each country can have a second strike opportunity.
In August this year , the US department of defense submitted its Annual Report on
"Military and Security Developments Involving the People's Republic of China — 2020." to congress which estimated the range of H-20 around 8500 km, bringing US bases in Japan, Philippines and Guam in crosshairs but Aviation experts like Fu Qianshao estimated its range around 12,000 km. If that comes true, It will grant Beijing the capability to strike within the third island ring to Hawaii and coastal Australia. Island chain strategy was formulated by American hardliner diplomat, John Foster Dulles at the time of the Korean War to encircle the USSR and China with US military projections in Eastern Asia.
Rumors were coming that we may get the first look at the H-20 on this year’s Zhuhai Air Show. China’s biggest Airshow was supposed to boost the country's battle against Coronavirus, but it was postponed until further notice for the same reason of COVID-19, so we have to wait for next year I guess.
Replacement of H-6 Bombers:
H-20 has been under development since the early 2000s to replace H-6 bombers, a licensed version of Russian Cold War era Tupolev Tu-16 bomber, also known as Chinese B-52. Although Tu-16 went out of service in Russia in 1990, Chinese H-6 has gone under many upgrades and improvements since coming into China's possession in 1960. New variants of H-6K and H-6N have two Soloviev D-30 turbofans, far more efficient compared to the WP-8 turbojets used in previous H-6s. While another variant is built for electronic warfare specifically.
US Department of Defense 2018 report on "Military and Security Developments Involving the People's Republic of China." states PLAAF Commander General Ma Xiaotian’s remarks given in 2016 at the announcement of the H-20 that the “weapon may surface around the same time in next decade”. Report also estimates the use of ‘5th Generation Technologies’ in H-20. China has already developed some other 5th Generation aircrafts like J-31 and J-20, it won’t be a surprise if H-20 also comes up with some of that tech.
Some say that H-20 can be empowered with the NK-321 Russian engine but
two independent military sources said it would be equipped with an upgraded WS-10 engine. This 630 mph bomber can travel with 45 tons of payload and can release up to 4 hypersonic cruise missiles. The Design is although kept secret for now, some artistic impressions and known info imply a fly wing design similar to some other next generation stealth bombers like American B-21 Raider and Russian Tupolev PAK DA code-name ‘Poslannik’.
Speculations were raised on its effectiveness by some experts and about how many of these mystery specs can come into reality. WS-10 engine isn’t powerful enough to uphold its stated combat capability and seems like a ‘transitional engine’ as long as there is no efficient replacement which will take a few years.
Arms race is never one-sided and China and Russia aren’t the only one trying to replace their previous warplanes and to develop a very long range stealth bomber. The American under development B-21 raider bomber is also going to replace B-2 bombers in the long run. This 550 million $ stealth war machine with its long fuel range, variety of conventional missiles and B-61 gravity nuclear bombs posed a vital threat to both Moscow and Beijing and H-20 isn’t the only answer PLA came up with.
JHXX - National Interest
Another Stealth BomberxFigher:
Interestingly the PLA is working on not one but two stealth bombers. Stealth JH-XX, probably similar to May 2018 magazine cover of “Aerospace Knowledge,”, is a perfect supersonic balance between stealth capability of H-20 and maneuverability and dog fighting abilities of modern fighter jets.
China has long said that it has a defensive foreign policy with the PLA only capable of penetrating islands in the first chain, like Taiwan but how Beijing will explain the development of a Stealth bomber capable of hitting Nuclear weapons across the Pacific. Offense is the best Defence i guess and along with that, China has a history of maritime Invasions in western half of Pacific.
Recent years haven’t been good for US-China relations from any perspective. Trade wars, COVID-19 accusations, Highest US-diplomatic visit to Taiwan in 30 years, 37 Chinese fighter jets including J-16, J-11, J-10 fighters, H6 bombers, and Y-8 anti-submarine warfare planes breaching Taiwan’s median line, US guided-missile destroyer drifting through Taiwan’s strait, US EP-3E reconnaissance airplane taking off from the Island and a lot more we don’t know at the moment. These tensions have already sabotaged the UN security council session on Covid-19 with pointless accusations and counter statements from both sides. White House Transfer next year brings some relief with its tensions with Tehran over the Nuclear deal, Biden’s presidency is not going to change anything in terms of ongoing tensions between the United States and China.