Chinese Air Force Commander Gives Update on Soon to be Revealed H-20 Intercontinental Range Stealth Bomber

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army is expected to unveil the first intercontinental range strategic bomber in the country’s history, the H-20, in mid-late 2024, with new insight into the program having been provided by the service’s deputy commander Wang Wei. The bomber, he stated, would meet expectations and be worth the excitement that has surrounded its imminent unveiling, with the program having faced no technical difficulties in development. He made these comments at the second session of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference 14th National Committee when asked about the program by the Hong Kong based Commercial Daily. “There is no bottleneck, and all problems can be solved. Our scientific researchers are progressing well, they are fully capable,” the deputy commander added, stating that it would be unveiled to the public shortly, and that its commissioning and mass production would closely follow test flights. The development of an intercontinental range bomber had long been speculated, and was first confirmed by the head of the air force Ma Xiaotian in 2016. It was subsequently confirmed that the aircraft was built as a flying wing stealth design similar to the GJ-11 drone or the American B-2 bomber

The significance of the H-20’s development has increased both as tensions between China and the Western world have continued to rise, and as the United States first flew its own intercontinental range stealth bomber the B-21 Raider on November 10, 2023. Making its maiden flight more than three years behind schedule, and with the United States having in the past required more than twice as long between the beginning of flight testing and service entry of its manned stealth aircraft, it remains uncertain whether the B-21 or the H-20 will enter service first despite the former’s lead in beginning flight testing. While all previous American intercontinental range bombers were developed with a potential conflict with the Soviet Union primarily in mind, the B-21 was designed specifically to meet the requirements for a capability to strike nuclear missile silos in western China, and other targets across the Chinese mainland. China and the United States are by far the best positioned countries to pursue a stealth bomber programs, and are the only two countries to field indigenous fifth generation stealth fighters at squadron level strength. With China having overtaken the U.S. in spending on defence acquisitions in 2020, Chinese J-20 fighters are currently being acquired by the country’s air force at more than twice the rate at which the U.S. Air Force acquires its closest technological counterpart the F-35.