A recent promotional video for the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) teases a glimpse of China’s forthcoming H-20 stealth bomber.
The recruitment video, which was posted to YouTube on Tuesday by an account identified by YouTube as belonging to China Central Television (CCTV), tells the tale of a young Chinese fighter pilot who dreams of glory in the skies.
Most of the video is computer-generated and focuses on the Chengdu J-20 stealth fighter, China’s rough counterpart to the US F-22 Raptor fighter, but also includes appearances by other Chinese fighter jets, like the J-10. One notable scene harkens back to the PLAAF’s first military action during the Korean War, when Chinese soldiers formed the People’s Volunteer Army under North Korean command and the PLAAF’s advanced new MiG-15s faced off against American fighters.
However, at the very end, viewers are rewarded with a glimpse of a mysterious advanced aircraft hidden under a sheet. The full aircraft is not seen, and this image is also just a computer-generated one and not an actual image of a completed H-20. However, the tease, which includes a moment in which the nose is revealed as the sheet begins to pull away, suggests that earlier reports of the H-20 copying the “flying wing” design of the US’ B-2 Spirit and forthcoming B-21 Raider stealth bombers were accurate.
What else can be told about the H-20 is speculation, but the contours of the aircraft under the computer-generated sheet suggest two engines, as the B-2 has.
The video’s ending effectively picks up where another 2018 promo video left off – a video that itself aped a 2015 commercial by Northrop Grumman used to tease the B-21, for which official concept art has since been released but which also has not been seen assembled yet.
Real views of both the H-20 and B-21 seem likely sometime this year, according to past reports. Both planes will be long-range strike aircraft capable of carrying both conventional and nuclear bombs as well as cruise missiles.
China’s only existing long-range bomber, the Xian H-6, is a heavily modified version of the Soviet 1960s-era Tu-16 Badger with only half the purported 5,000-mile range of the forthcoming H-20. However, the PLA has gotten significant mileage out of the H-6, adapting it for various roles including maritime patrol and the hauling of extra-large payloads, such as drones and air-launched ballistic missiles.
Rumors have also swirled about a second stealth bomber in development in China, which has been provisionally dubbed the J/H-XX, but little is known about the aircraft.