"The PLAAF [People's Liberation Army Air Force] is developing new medium- and long-range stealth bombers to strike regional and global targets," an annex of a US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) report issued last week states. "Stealth technology continues to play a key role in the development of these new bombers, which probably will reach initial operational capability no sooner than 2025."
"These new bombers will have additional capabilities, with full-spectrum upgrades compared with current operational bomber fleets, and will employ many fifth-generation fighter technologies in their design," the review, titled "China Military Power," states.
An August announcement by CCTV confirmed the "Hong-20" was China's "new long-distance strategic bomber," and the plane may be ready to make its first flight this year, Sputnik reported. The H-20 is widely believed to be analogous to the US Air Force's B-2 Spirit stealth bomber, manufactured by Northrop Grumman, in both design and range.
China says its H-20 nuclear stealth bomber is about to hit the skies — and it could be a game changer in the South China Sea— The Gordian Knot (@GordianThe) October 11, 2018
Talk about a knock of a #Defense commercial. #china just steals #intellectualproperty pic.twitter.com/l3gvJLbGRD
However, the DIA report also described a second plane with no obvious analogue in the US fleet. This plane, described as a medium bomber, would be heavier than an F-35 Joint Strike Fighter but would lack the long range of the H-20.
The Drive reports the plane, which is roughly dubbed the JH-XX by observers, will have a 1,000 to 2,000-mile combat radius, an internal ventral weapons bay but also side weapons bays, possibly for air-to-air weapons. It is believed to be about 100 feet long. By comparison, an F-22 Raptor is 62 feet long, and the H-20 is projected to have a range of 5,000 miles without refueling.
Lots of fan art has emerged portraying both the H-20 and the JH-XX, including unofficial art that appeared on the cover of Chinese Aerospace Knowledge magazine last April, but nothing is confirmed yet. Observers seem to be basing their projections for the JH-XX off a similar but rejected proposal floated by Lockheed Martin to the US Air Force for a medium bomber derived from the F-22 Raptor that was provisionally dubbed the FB-22.
China debuted its Chengdu J-20 fifth-generation stealth fighter, roughly the equivalent of the US' F-22, in 2011 and added it to combat service in February of last year. This November, the plane was spotted at the Zhuhai Air Show pulling off some stunts.