China Is Building Its Very Own Stealth Bombers: Meet the H-20 and JH-XX
Meet the H-20 and JH-XX
Key Problem: China remains reliant on foreign-sourced components for high-performance aircraft engines.
China is developing not one but two new stealth bombers, the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency claimed in a January 2019 report.
While the People’s Liberation Army has not been shy about discussing the H-20 strategic bomber that the Xian Aircraft Industrial Corporation is developing for the PLA Air Force, there are many fewer public references to the other stealth bomber, which apparently carries the designation JH-XX.
If the report is accurate and China completes development of the JH-XX, the Chinese air force could become the first air arm in the world to deploy a radar-evading fighter-bomber whose main mission is long-range ground-attack.
Other stealth fighter types, including the U.S. military’s F-22 and F-35, the Russian air force’s Su-57 and the PLAAF’s J-20 and J-31 either primarily are air-to-air fighters or combine air-combat capability with the ability to strike ground targets.
Beijing’s goal of eventually forcing Taiwan to unify with China has driven the new bombers’ development. “Beijing’s anticipation that foreign forces would intervene in a Taiwan scenario led the PLA to develop a range of systems to deter and deny foreign regional force projection,” the DIA reported.
The Pentagon’s air base at Guam, a key staging area for U.S. warplanes operating over the Western Pacific, is a major potential target of China’s new bombers.
“The PLAAF is developing new medium- and long-range stealth bombers to strike regional and global targets,” the DIA continued in its report. “Stealth technology continues to play a key role in the development of these new bombers, which probably will reach initial operational capability no sooner than 2025.
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