The next-generation bomber of the People's Liberation Army Air Force, one of the Chinese military's most anticipated aircraft, will be world-class in terms of technology and capability, according to a well-informed observer.
Fu Qianshao, a retired equipment expert from the PLA Air Force, said the new Chinese bomber, popularly dubbed the H-20, will be more powerful than the United States' Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit, now the mightiest bomber in the world, and will be bigger than the Northrop Grumman B-21 Raider, the next US long-range, stealth strategic bomber.
He said the world-class design of the new Chinese aircraft, whose official code name has not yet been disclosed, will outshine its peers around the world.
"Once the new bomber is unveiled, it will definitely be world-leading hardware thanks to our unique technologies, and will be equipped with reliable engines," Fu said this month. "People only need to wait patiently to see the rise of the Chinese aviation industry and the PLA Air Force."
He said research and development of the bomber was highly sophisticated and involved many industrial sectors.
Addressing recent speculation about the new plane's external appearance, Fu said he believed that images of the bomber published in some domestic weapons magazines were purely artistic renderings created by aviation enthusiasts, and did not represent the actual design.
Whether China would develop a new strategic bomber to replace its half-century-old H-6 fleet and what the new aircraft would look like had been long-standing questions among observers and fans of the PLA Air Force until recently, when high-ranking officers and project managers started dropping hints about the new plane.
In September 2016, General Ma Xiaotian, the Air Force's former commander, told reporters, "We are now developing a new-generation, long-range strike bomber that you will see sometime in the future."
In May 2018, the nation's leading aircraft maker-Aviation Industry Corp of China-displayed a front view of what appeared to be a flying-wing aircraft concept at the end of a promotional video. The clip was released to mark the 60th anniversary of Xi'an Aircraft Industry, an AVIC subsidiary in Shaanxi province that is China's major builder of bombers.
AVIC did not explain the six-second clip, doubtlessly an attempt to highlight the plane's significance and mystery.
Despite its brevity, the video seems to have ended debate among Chinese military fans and aviation industry observers about whether the new bomber would adopt a conventional aerodynamic configuration or the flying-wing design previously used only on the Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit.
In early January, the PLA Air Force also included an artistic rendering of what appeared to be a large flying-wing bomber at the end of a widely circulated video intended to help recruit new student pilots.
Analysts said it was a move to show that the new bomber's development was proceeding well and likely nearing completion.