Among major military powers, China has arguably the strangest method of ‘unveiling’ new weapon systems. For a country that is unquestionably paranoid about its security, over the past decade, Beijing has used company videos, enthusiasts’ photography and ‘rumours’ reported via the state-owned media to reveal new missiles, ships and aircraft to the world.
Now, Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), one of China’s largest aerospace firms, has seemingly provided a sneak-peek into one of the most classified defence projects being pursued by Beijing—a new stealth bomber. On Tuesday, a promotional video from AVIC featured a shrouded object at its very end, with the words “The Next” above it. The object has the aerodynamic shape of a ‘flying wing’, popularised by the US Air Force’s iconic B-2 stealth bomber.
AVIC also built China’s current strategic bomber, the H-6 family, which is based on a 1950s-era Soviet design, the TU-16. While the H-6 has been upgraded to carry stand-off cruise missiles, the need for a new bomber has been felt over the years, given the advanced weaponry being acquired by rivals such as Japan, India and Vietnam.
The flying wing design is considered as highly efficient given its high fuel efficiency and relatively low radar signature. The flying wing design has also been adopted by the US for its next bomber project, the B-21.
The proposed Chinese stealth bomber, tentatively being referred to as the H-20, is expected to be inducted after 2020 and would give added heft to Beijing’s nuclear and conventional strike capabilities.
By: The Week
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