The future Chinese H-20 strategic bomber does not scare American intelligence. Are they right?

The new H-20 strategic bomber, which is to replace the venerable H-6 within the Chinese Air Force's bomber units, will be unveiled within a few weeks. This is what was revealed a few weeks ago by Deputy Commander of the Air Force of the People's Liberation Army, Wang Wei, announced in an interview given to the Hong Kong Commercial Daily.

Expected for several years, the H-20 must mark a profound evolution of the Chinese nuclear triad, by providing it with a very long-range aircraft, which is also potentially stealthy, making it the second world air force to deploy this type of means, after the United States.

Although very little information is available about this program, the American intelligence services do not seem to particularly fear the arrival of the new device, even if it is imminent. Indeed, during an interview given to American journalists, an official from these services suggested that the H-20 would not have capabilities comparable to those of the American B-21 Raider.

However, the confidence displayed by the Pentagon on this subject is justified. This recalls that regularly exposed, a few years ago, regarding other Chinese equipment programs, such as the Type 052D destroyers or the J-20 fighters, while the latter now constitute subjects of marked concern, for this same Pentagon.

The highly anticipated Chinese H-20 strategic bomber and its anticipated performance

Announced as imminent for several years, the entry into service of the Chinese H-20 has still not taken place. In addition, the program is particularly opaque on the public stage, so that most of the key elements constituting this strategic bomber are still unknown.

H-20 strategic bomber teasing 2022
On the sidelines of the new year, in 2022, the Chinese aeronautics industry released a teaser for the H-20, replicating that used by Northrop-Grumman, for the B-21.

According to American intelligence, it would have the shape of a flying wing, which seems to have been confirmed by Chinese communication. This configuration suggests that it is therefore designed, like the American B-2 Spirit and B-21 Raider, to be equipped with advanced stealth.

The shape of the flying wing, in fact, by the absence of protruding edges and vertical and horizontal planes, tends to reduce the radar equivalent surface of the device, as well as the resonance phenomena exploited by low frequency UHF radars. or VHF.

Beyond this near certainty, the information on the device is, at best, estimates published by certain intelligence services. Thus, the Pentagon estimates that the H-20 will have a range of 8 km, with a payload capacity of more than 500 tons.

By similarity, it is also probable that the aircraft will evolve at high subsonic, and that it will be used by the PLA, both for strategic strikes, replacing the H-6N, and for long-range naval strikes, replacing the H-6J.

Pentagon intelligence estimates that American B-2s and B-21s will be superior to the H-20.

Beyond this very limited information, the H-20 is under an absolute blackout from the Chinese authorities and its manufacturer, Xi'an. The Pentagon's intelligence services, on the other hand, seem to know a little more about this.

B-21 Raider
First flight of the B-21 Raider. The US Air Force plans to acquire around a hundred of these aircraft, to replace first the B-1 Lancer, then the B-2 Spirit and the B-52 Stratofortress.

Speaking on condition of anonymity to selected journalists from the US defense press, a Pentagon intelligence official said that the Pentagon was not “particularly worried” about the arrival of the H-20 in the months or years to come.


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1 COMMENT

  1. Speaking of bias, be careful not to reproduce the one on Russia either. By eating their propaganda, we wrongly believed that their material was fantastic.
    In daylight, it's less obvious.
    And since the Chinese way of doing things is still a bit “Sovietized,” it risks causing quite a bit of surprise when things break out towards Taiwan.

    We remember the endless India/China skirmishes before the rafales are arriving. Since then, there are not so many Chinese planes flying in this sector (Ladackh)

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