The First Aircraft Institute of the Aviation Industry Corporation of China has been designing the first generation long-range stealth bomber for the People's Liberation Army Air Force since 2008, the state-run China Aviation News reports.
Senior Colonel Wu Guohui from the National Defense University in Beijing told China Aviation News that the stealth bomber has two advantages over ballistic missiles. The first one is that ballistic missiles can only be fired once, while a stealth bomber can take off multiple times. The second is that ballistic missiles cannot return to base, as the stealth bomber can, if a mission is aborted.
As the United States has decided to invest US$1.2 billion a year to develop a new stealth bomber to replace its Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit, Wu said that it is time for China to have its own stealth bomber. Conventional strategic bombers such as the B-2 and the Chinese Xian H-6 are both easy targets for enemy fighters and anti-aircraft missiles to attack. Russia is also designing its new-generation long-range bomber to compete with the United States and China.
Currently, the United States is the only nation in the world to have designed and operated a stealth bomber. Three types of long-range stealth bombers — the Lockheed A-12, the Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk and the B-2 — have been developed in the history of US military aviation. Today, the B-2 bomber is the only manned stealth bomber still in service. For this reason, China considers the development of a long-range stealth bomber as a breakthrough for the nation's aviation industry.
China is now the only country in the world except the United States and Russia to develop a medium-range or long-range stealth bomber. The Xian Aircraft Industrial Corporation and the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation began conceptualizing the project more than a decade ago, according to the report. At the beginning of the 21st century, the Aviation Industry Corporation of China took over the project and continued the development of China's own stealth bomber.