An artist’s impression of the likely features of an H-20 stealth bomber. Photo from Weibo
Nov. 11 (UPI) -- China is close to introducing its most advanced stealth bomber yet, as the country continues to expand its air force.
The H-20 bomber is seen as China's answer to the US B-21 Raider. The US defence department estimates a cruising distance of more than 5,300 miles for the H-20, the last in China's "20 series" new-generation warplanes, which will double the country's strike range.
"The aircraft is ready to be introduced, it's just a matter of choosing the right timing," an insider, who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter, told the South China Morning Post.
Lieutenant General Jia Zhigang said: "The air force should beef up its combat capabilities in both defensive and offensive air space operation."
According to former PLA instructor Song Zhongping, Jia'sremarks were a "strong implication" that China planned to introduce its H-20 bomber in the near future
"As the air force's deputy commander, Jia has already given a clear message for the launch of the H-20, which is an indispensable part of letting the air force build up its powerful strategic deterrence," Song told the South China Morning Post.
The US B-21 Raider, expected to launch on Dec. 2, will replace older generation bombers like the Rockwell B-1 Lancer and Northrop B-2 Spirit.
The H-20's primary mission would be nuclear strikes, although its unclear exactly what the aircraft looks like.
Lieutenant Colonel Zou Zhaosia, the air force's equipment department chief, told the Sputh China Morning Post weapons upgrade and replacements would continue as they had done in the past decade, as the Chinese military works towards its goal of becoming a world-class fighting force.