China Announces Development of New Long Range Bomber

By Published on September 2, 2016

A new long-range bomber will carry China’s hopes to extend its reach and enhance its force projection, a senior Chinese military official revealed Thursday to the Global Times. “We are developing a new generation of long-range bomber, and you’ll see it in the future,” People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) Commander Ma Xiaotian told the Global Times.

Without going into specific details, Ma explained that the development of a new long-range bomber is part of ongoing efforts to transform the PLA into a modern fighting force, reports Reuters. Ma introduced that the PLAAF is transitioning and putting greater emphasis on quality over quantity.

China has long been interested in developing an elite long-range bomber force to defend its shores at greater distances, preferably as far out as the second island chain, which includes Anderson Air Force Base in Guam.

Without long-range strike capabilities, China’s power projection options are limited. “A medium-range bomber can’t essentially fix the PLA air force’s shortcomings in terms of strategic strike and strategic deterrence,” the China Daily reported last year. “The air force does need an intercontinental strategic bomber capable of penetrating an enemy’s air defenses.”

Ma’s announcement confirms suspicions that China is not planning to simply upgrade its outdated H-6K bombers; rather, China intends to develop a new type of next-generation strategic bomber.

The new long-range bomber will likely be a stealth aircraft, Chinese military affairs expert Yin Zhuo told the Global Times. This bomber may also have supersonic flight capabilities. Both stealth and supersonic flight are necessary if China hopes to compete with its key strategic rivals, the U.S. in particular.

Yin expects China’s next-generation bomber to feature an improved engine, a modified body, and enhanced weapons. With an expected combat radius of 5,000 to 6,000 kilometers, a significant improvement over the H-6Ks, this new aircraft will have intercontinental or semi-intercontinental flight capabilities. Using advanced air refueling options, China could extend this bomber’s reach to 12,000 kilometers. China’s new long-range bomber may also be equipped with upgraded cruise missiles to counter improvements in anti-aircraft weapons technology.

China has one operational aircraft carrier with two more underway, it is building a modern fleet of Jin-class nuclear submarines, and it recently revealed that its improved three-tiered surface-to-air missile system is ready for deployment. A new long-range strategic bomber force with advanced modern warfare capabilities will give China the ability to better project power and expand its rapidly growing sphere of influence in the Asia-Pacific region.

 

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Copyright 2016 The Daily Caller News Foundation

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