China needs to develop a new long-range strike bomber capable of attacking targets farther out in the Pacific. This is the principal conclusion of a meeting of Chinese military officials, according to AFP citing a full-page China Daily article published last Tuesday as its source.
In the meeting the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) was also referred to as a “strategic force” a title usually reserved for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Second Artillery Corps – Beijing’s “de facto strategic missile force,” according to China Daily.
The new bomber should be capable of striking targets as far as the “second island chain” – an area stretching from the Kurils in the North through Japan, the Bonins, the Marianas, the Carolines and Indonesia in the South – the paper further states.
The PLA’s definition of a long-range strategic bomber is a minimum range of 8,000 km (5,000 miles) without refueling and the capacity to carry a payload of more than 10 tons of air-to-ground ammunition.
This definition would correspondent to the sparse details available on China’s prospective subsonic stealth bomber – the H-20 (or H-X) – which could enter service by 2025 some analysts note. According to the Chinese Military Aviation blog, new long-range strategic bomber designs have been under development at the 603rd Aircraft Design Institute (a partner of Xi’an Aircraft Industrial Corporation) since the 1990s.