By 2025, China Could Have TWO Stealth Bombers

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Key point: While the H-20 is slower and stealthier, the JH-XX would be faster.

In January 2018, two sentences in an annual report by the DIA on Chinese military power sent a minor shockwave rippling across the defense-related internet:

“The PLAAF is developing new medium- and long-range stealth bombers to strike regional and global targets. Stealth technology continues to play a key role in the development of these new bombers, which probably will reach initial operational capability no sooner than 2025.”

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Bombers, plural. In a separate chart, an un-designated next-generation “Tactical Bomber” is listed, denoted as being equipped with a high-resolution Active Electronically Scanned Array radar, precision-guided bombs and long-range air-to-air missiles.

In the last few years, China’s development of what appears to be a subsonic long-range heavy strategic bomber called the H-20 has become increasingly evident—especially in 2018, when the Chinese government began teasing a public unveiling to take place in 2019. The flying wing bomber, which apparently resembles the U.S. B-2 Spirit in form and function, is to be produced by Xi’an Aircraft Corporation, which already manufactures older H-6 strategic bombers and the chubby Y-20 transport plane.

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However, the stealth “tactical” or “medium” bomber was news—sort of. The fighter-bomber in question is believed to refer to the JH-XX, a rival stealth bomber concept proposed by Shenyang Aircraft Corporation believed to have been passed over in favor of the longer-range H-20. Shenyang is better known for producing fighters, including Chinese derivatives of the Russian Flanker jet and a J-31 stealth fighter which may be exported or serve on Chinese aircraft carriers.