If China’s H-20 stealth bomber could change the strategy between the US and China; The US also has a strategy to respond by deploying US bases and fleets throughout the Pacific.
In October 2018, Chinese media announced that the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) would publicize their new H-20 stealth strategic bomber (model), during the military parade for celebrate the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the air force.
Currently, there are only three countries that have the necessary conditions and resources to develop massive strategic bombers that can strike targets around the globe: the United States, Russia and China.
Strategic bombers are of great significance to China, as Beijing considers domination of the western half of the Pacific Ocean essential to its security, given its history of maritime aggression and challenges. standards set forth by the United States in particular.
Currently, the two superpowers US and China are separated by the Pacific Ocean; in the last century, the US has developed a network of military bases on islands such as Guam, Hawaii, bases in many East Asian countries and deployed super carriers, which help the US to erase the distance factor.
China currently has only the H-6 bomber , which is a copy of the Soviet Tu-16 bomber, developed in the 1950s; The H-6 has recently been upgraded with modern avionics, in-flight refueling capabilities and the use of cruise missiles.
But whether it is the H-6K or H-6J version, this is still a medium-range bomber, with a limited payload capacity and range, unable to reach the US territory
China has considered developing a supersonic bomber, like the American B-1 or the Russian Tu-160, called the JH-XX, which can carry a large bomb load, fly at high speed. and low altitude, while also featuring partial stealth, to slightly improve survivability.
However, such an approach was considered too vulnerable, for modern fighters and air defense systems of the late twentieth century. A Chinese magazine cover featured a concept image of the JH-XX in 2013, but the project seems to have been shelved for now
As China’s growing economy and ambitions pass the period of “hiding and waiting for the time”, the PLAAF changes its approach, a more ambitious one, which is to develop a stealthy strategic bomber with supersonic speed with the the same range as the US B-2 and soon the B-21 Raider.
China’s development of stealth aircraft technology, such as the J-20 and J-31, is a clear premise for the H-20 project. Some information about the H-20 is revealed, it is a “flying wing” design, using four WS-10A Taihang shaft turbines without afterburning.
The H-20 is expected to have a maximum combat radius, without the need for refueling, in excess of 5,000 nautical miles and a weapons payload equivalent to the US B-2 bomber (about 23 tons).
With such a range, the H-20 is capable of hitting targets beyond the “second island chain”, including US bases in Japan, Guam, the Philippines, and targets in the “third island chain”. “, extending to Hawaii and coastal Australia, from bases on mainland China.
The best method by which China can neutralize American airpower is to destroy American aircraft on the ground (or on the deck of an aircraft carrier), especially in the early hours of the war
Although anti-ship ballistic missiles and H-6 bombers can contribute to the attack with long-range missiles, they are very easy to detect and intercept. But thanks to its stealth, the H-20 can get closer to aircraft carriers and airbases and launch missiles, leaving defenders with little time to react
The H-20 will also be capable of carrying nuclear weapons, completing the final piece of the strategic deterrent trinity of submarines, ballistic missiles and strategic bombers, capable of carrying nuclear weapons. for China
The addition of stealth bombers, will also contribute to enhancing China’s nuclear deterrence, by adding a new, difficult-to-prevent nuclear attack method that US defenses can’t afford. Not designed to resist.
Analysts predict that the first flight of the H-20 take place in the early 2020s, with production possibly starting around 2025. But so far, the H-20 images are computer-based; Analysts wonder, is this China’s “really serious” or not.
Beijing’s ambition, for a stealth strategic bomber as analyzed above, is undisputed, as the H-20 will act as a strategic deterrent, against competitor; But it’s all still shrouded in secrecy.
If the H-20 is to be judged to be of a credible design, the Pentagon will have to take into account the strategic implications of China’s stealth weapons capabilities, and deploy anti-stealth technologies, which have not been previously available. , mostly deployed only by Russia and China.
And what strategy did the US have to “go beyond containment”, with respect to China’s H-20 stealth bomber, in a US-China conflict? The best response strategy is to deploy US bases and fleets across the Pacific, to organize surprise attacks on Chinese stealth aircraft sites.