In the last few days, videos of a flying wing model undergoing aerodynamic tests have surfaced in Chinese social media, and quickly caught the interest of western analysts. The models, featuring a flying wing design, with serrated intakes, and a converting v-tail which can fold down to merge with the wing, is largely consistent with previous depictions of the still in development H-20 stealth bomber. With the secretive nature of Chinese military development, this “leak” may not be a leak at all, but is instead a planned release to build attention previously primed with sneak peak previews by state media.
The resemblance between the previous, unofficial renderings and this current wind tunnel test further fans the flame around the video, with some commenting that this could be a marketing stunt by the model company to use hype around the H-20 to promote their own services. Another commented that the previous H-20 imagery released to the public in the Modern Weaponry magazine which the current model is based on, did not result in arrest and a prison sentence of the magazine’s editor, thus concluding that the models are largely inaccurate to the actual design of the H-20 bomber.
When completed, the H-20 will complete the trifecta of “-20” aviation projects in the People’s Liberation Army Air Force, joining the J-20 “Mighty Dragon” stealth fighter and Y-20 “Kunpeng” strategic airlifter in modernizing China’s Air Force. Likely to gain Initial Operating Capability close to the United States’s B-21 Raider, the H-20 is on track to give China the status of one of only two nations with a fleet of stealth bombers alongside the United States. The completion of the program will also indicate the PLAAF’s outward growth towards a more global strategic mindset with the tools to match.
Looking at the American B-2’s record, the only operational stealth bomber, one sees a globe-spanning list of operating locations and bombing targets, from Guam to Yugoslavia, ensuring that the will of the United States is extended across the world. Although we probably won’t see the H-20 flying combat sorties anytime soon, its mere presence will provide Chinese statesmen with far more diplomatic pressure in its regional flashpoints and beyond should the need arise.