The Hong-20, the newest Chinese long-range nuclear-capable strategic bomber is likely to be revealed during the parade for the People’s Liberation Army Air Force’s (PLAAF) 70th anniversary in 2019, according to Chinese media.
Despite Chinese media claims there is no official statement or confirmation by the Chinese government or military.
The existence of the bomber program was confirmed by PLAAF commander Gen. Ma Xiaotian in 2016.
Andreas Rupprecht speculated in the Jamestown Foundation’s report that the jet has been under development since the late 1990s or early 2000s.
According to more analyst speculation, cited by the Defence blog, the H-20 bomber is likely to make its first flight soon. This is further reinforced by Chinese state television’s confirmation that the aircraft will be ready to fly in the near future.
During an evening gala for China’s strategic bomber division, there was a new logo which included a silhouette of an unknown aircraft. The gala was held on October 7 at an unspecified strategic bomber division under the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Eastern Theater Command, the official PLA Air Force website reported on October 11th.
The Global Times reported that speculations of the reveal came after a “morale-boosting gala” held by China’s strategic bomber division in which “the silhouette of a mysterious aircraft appeared” in a logo displayed on a big screen.
On October 10th, the Global Times also cited Chinese military experts who claimed that the H-20 would make its maiden flight soon. “The trial flight will come soon,” Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert said.
According to the Chinese outlet, in August, China Central Television released a documentary disclosing that the H-20 is called Hong-20, meaning “bomber aircraft” in Chinese.
Business Insider also reported that China may have been teasing the H-20 in May 2018, when it released a possible video of the bomber under a sheet, which looked like a B-21 Raider.
According to the Diplomat, details about the H-20’s design and capabilities remain limited. However, there is a broad belief that the new aircraft, developed by Xi’an Aircraft Industrial Corporation (XAC), will have a stealthy flying wing design with an internal weapons bay similar to the U.S. Air Force’s B-2 Spirit bomber.
The PLAAF’s basic requirement for an aircraft to be designated a strategic bomber is a minimum range of 8,000 km (5,000 miles) without refueling and the capacity to carry a payload of more than 10 tons of air-to-ground munitions. According to the Diplomat, it is estimated that the new bomber could enter service with the PLAAF as early as 2025.
None of the speculations over the unveiling have been confirmed by Chinese government or military as of yet. However, China has claimed some significant progress in other areas of its military such as aircraft carriers, missiles and even development of unmanned submarines. Considering all of that, it wouldn’t be surprising if they unveil the new stealth bomber at an advanced stage of development.