Chinese state media has announced that the country’s military is looking to build its own long range strategic bomber.
In accordance with Chinese military terminology, this new bomber craft would have a range of at least 8,000km, and would be able to lift at least 10 tons of air-to-ground weapons.
State mouthpiece ‘China Daily’ confirmed reporting by Kanwa Defense Review, that this decision was made during a recent meeting of high-level Chinese military officials.
There, the decision was made to upgrade the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) to the level of a “strategic force”, a title previously only held by the PLA’s Second Artillery Corp, China’s defacto strategic missile force.
Similar to the country’s missile force, a strategic bomber would also enable the Chinese government to project power further away from its shores.
Critically, a long range bomber would allow China’s armed forces to strike targets beyond the so-called ‘second island chain’ in the Western Pacific, long seen as a red line by the US and its allies.
While the decision to build such a craft is a purely political decision for the moment, Kanwa Defense Review believes the Chinese will soon begin a design competition.
This competition, it believes, will begin in 1 to 2 years, following the conclusion of a similar competition for the Y-20 heavy airlifter.
Chinese military aerospace industry continues to develop
Despite being several years behind its competitors in the US or Russia, the Chinese aerospace industry is catching up fast.
Currently, it is producing a large number of advanced 3rd and 4th generation fighter jets, including the Chengdu J-10 , a fighter also exported to Pakistan.
The PLAAF has also begun trials of a secretive stealth aircraft called the J-20, comparable to top of the line jets in service elsewhere in the world.
Despite this, the industry is still currently reliant on high tech parts produced outside of China, with its dependency on Russian engines particular critical.