An article published by the China Military Online website on 7 December has provided further insights into the requirements for China's new strategic bomber.
Remarks made in the media report by Rear Admiral Yin Zhuo, director of the People's Liberation Army Navy's Expert Consultation Committee, followed on from the confirmation given on 1 September by General Ma Xiaotian, Commander of the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF), that China is developing a new long-range strategic bomber referred to in the article as the H-20.
While Gen Ma gave no details of the programme, R Adm Yin, who is also a regular media commentator on Chinese military developments, commented that as the "cruise missiles, nuclear weapons, and other weapons and equipment that will be carried by domestic strategic bombers are all in place", the time was right for China to develop a new strategic bomber.
He stated that China's current long-range bomber, the Xian Aircraft Corporation (XAC) H-6 series (a modernised Tupolov Tu-16 Badger derivative) is not truly a strategic bomber and suggested that the new aircraft will have characteristics comparable with those of the Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit stealth bomber.
The experience and knowledge in the design of stealth aircraft gained from the development of the stealthy J-20 and F-31 combat aircraft, together with the associated understanding and application of advanced materials technology, also present an opportune moment to progress the requirement for a new strategic bomber, according to R Adm Yin.
Although China has never developed a strategic bomber, the production of the XAC Y-20 military transport aircraft and of the Comac C919 commercial jet airliner reflect the progress the country's aviation industry has made in acquiring the technical expertise required to embark upon such a development project.
The article also quoted remarks made by another military commentator, Li Li, who noted that the technical challenge in producing a stealthy supersonic bomber was very considerable.
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