With Conventional and Nuclear Capabilities… China Unveils H-20 Stealth Bomber

The French “Le Point” magazine reported that Chinese television broadcasted for the first time pictures at the end of last November, that it was a new long-range strategic nuclear launcher “H-20”, which confirms that the development of military weapons in China is underway, by leaps and bounds.

The magazine explained that the aforementioned plane was not known about it before this leak, except for a picture taken of a covered aircraft in an aircraft hangar, provided by the China Aviation Industry Association last May.

The magazine wondered about the characteristics of the new launcher, which has the speed of sound, and also asked about the extent of its development, and whether it was at the level of the American “B2” ghost, noting that the questions about it are still more than the answers.

The magazine mentioned that what was mentioned in the recent US Defense Department report on Chinese military power, published in August 2020, stated that the existence of the “H-20” bomber had not been a secret since 2016. 

However, other information about it is not available, but it may enter service in the next decade with its specifications.

A range of no less than 8,500 km and a payload that may exceed 10.5 tons, in addition to conventional and nuclear capabilities.

Antoine Bundaz, a researcher at the Strategic Research Foundation and a specialist in China, believes that there is no doubt that the modern Chinese plane is in an advanced stage of development, and said, “This plane could theoretically have intercontinental capabilities if it met basic conditions; But what are the characteristics of the air-to-ground missile that it will carry, is it derived from “Dong Feng-21” or “Dong Feng-15”?

The magazine pointed out that the range of the first missile is less than 3 thousand kilometers, while the range of the second does not exceed 600 kilometers, explaining that the only thing certain in the American report is that they are in Washington watching with interest the emergence of the future fighter.

In a report documented by the Royal United Services Institute in London, published last October, researcher Justin Bronk said that the first possible flight of the H-20 aircraft will be at the beginning of this decade, stressing that the operational beginnings of this aircraft will constitute a “major breakthrough” for the Air Force China, which until now was restricted to a regional business area not bypassing the “first chain of islands” surrounding China, and “but the H-20 will provide China with a true international intercontinental capability”.

For his part, Marc Julian, a specialist in Asian and Chinese security affairs at the French Institute for International Relations, says that China does not yet have the means to realize its ambitions in strategic matters. 

Because, unlike other major countries, “it does not have a base abroad, its fleet of refueling by air is weak, and its strategic submarine fleet barely exceeds the North of the South China Sea, and its real nuclear capacity is still ground and limited, so that its aircraft carry only nuclear bombs strongly gravity”.

This researcher believes that the Chinese should possess a new model of nuclear warheads that are adaptable to long-range missiles, indicating that China is far from technological self-sufficiency with regard to strategic armament, including aviation, especially since its navy missiles, for example, are American-made.

As for the H-20 – as the magazine says – none of those we asked can currently determine whether its reactors are from Russia or are of Chinese design.

The magazine noted that the Chinese H-6 old-generation strategic bomber was nothing but a copy of the Russian Tu-16, which had been flying since 1952; Yet for Bundaz, that’s the secret of the H-20’s importance.

Bundaz says that “resources for China were limited in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, and the Chinese were satisfied with the basics with their ground-based ballistic missiles, and then their technological and financial resources increased in the 1980s and 1990s.

The real weakness of China, and it was a declared goal, and they made rapid progress.

The magazine concluded that the Chinese have made great efforts to obtain a large and diverse nuclear capability capable of dealing with all forms of conflict, and with opponents in a transcontinental distance, with various weapons, under water, on land or in the air, and the H-20 comes to confirm this Chinese desire to have access to these capabilities.