The Chinese air force is developing Xian H-20 its new stealth bomber. What does that mean for the U.S.?

In January, the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) released a high-quality recruiting video. The spot links, in a compelling way, China’s air force legacy to its future using shots of existing stealth fighters in futuristic roles. 

Three minutes and 43 seconds into the video, China’s new stealth bomber is shown, covered in a sheet. The Xian H-20, the bomber’s supposed designation, has been teased since 2016. If realized, the H-20 would be China’s only purpose-built strategic bomber. 

Bomber Specifics – Sort of

Very little is known about the bomber as the Chinese government has not acknowledged its existence. Nevertheless, sources inside China have leaked information to the press, painting a bleak picture. 

China Daily, China’s largest English-language newspaper, reported on the bomber earlier this month. According to the newspaper, the H-20 is projected to be bigger and more powerful than the B-2 or B-21. 

Furthermore, if the information provided to the South China Morning Post is correct, the new bomber eclipses its U.S. equivalents. With a projected munitions payload of 45 tons and a range of 7,400 miles, no U.S. bomber even comes close: The B-2 Spirit has a payload of 20 tons and a range of approximately 7,000 miles. The B-52 clocks in at a 35-ton payload and 8,800-mile range. 

Will the Xian H-20 Be a Nuclear Bomber?

China’s newest bomber is also expected to be nuclear-capable. Adding nuclear capability to a new stealth platform will bring China in line with America. Currently, China operates the H-6N, a variant of Russia’s T-16 bomber. The T-16 was developed in the 1960s to keep abreast of the U.S. in strategic dominance.