Official videos, state broadcaster offer hints H-20 bomber might soon be unveiled
Published: Jan 14, 2021 10:17 PM

An unknown aircraft covered by a tarpaulin is seen in a report by China Central Television on Tuesday. Photo: Screenshot from China Central Television

Speculations over China’s next generation, long-range strategic stealth bomber, allegedly called the H-20, has again been ignited by recent promotional videos and state broadcaster reports after the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force gave a vague glimpse of the flying wing aircraft in its 2021 recruitment video last week.

The aircraft, covered in red tarpaulin rendered in computer-generated imagery, appeared in a program by China Central Television (CCTV) aired on Tuesday. 

The video seemed to show a very similar aircraft that was outlined by the PLA Air Force video, both suggesting it’s a flying wing design, has no visible tail wing and has two intakes in the back of the plane, analysts said.

After reviewing top Chinese weapons that shined in 2020, the CCTV program said people expect this aircraft to be unveiled in 2021.

In celebration of the 10th anniversary of the first flight of China’s first stealth fighter jet J-20, state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), developer of the J-20 and allegedly also the developer of the H-20, released a promotional video on Monday, in which a scaled model of a flying wing aircraft appeared for a brief moment, Shanghai-based media outlet reported on Wednesday.

This means the mysterious new bomber has had three hints this year from the future user PLA Air Force, the developer AVIC and state broadcaster CCTV.

The broad hints could indicate that the development project has made significant progress, and people might be able to see a real H-20 soon, Wei Dongxu, a Beijing-based military expert, told the Global Times.

But several experts reached by the Global Times wouldn’t predict how soon the aircraft might be seen in public. 

Some analysts suggested that hoping the bomber might be unveiled in 2021 could be overly optimistic, considering there has been no reports indicating a real H-20 is near completion, while others said the aircraft’s development is being kept secret, and it could make its debut anytime.

The situation is different for another widely expected new addition to the PLA arsenal, namely China’s third aircraft carrier, which was also seen in computer-generated imagery and predicted to debut in 2021, according to the CCTV program on Tuesday.

Overseas media and military analysts have been observing its construction in Shanghai via publicly available commercial satellite images, saying the ship is making smooth progress.

Beijing-based naval expert Li Jie told the Global Times in a previous interview that the carrier could very well be launched in 2021.