China's B-21 Raider: The Xi'an H-20 Stealth Bomber Is Coming

Xi'an H-20 Stealth Bomber from China
April 15, 2024 Topic: Security Region: Asia Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: ChinaB-21B-21 RaiderStealth BomberBomberH-20Air Force

China's B-21 Raider: The Xi'an H-20 Stealth Bomber Is Coming

China is on the brink of unveiling its highly anticipated Xi'an H-20 stealth bomber, a move that could significantly shift the strategic balance in the Pacific.

Summary: China is on the brink of unveiling its highly anticipated Xi'an H-20 stealth bomber, a move that could significantly shift the strategic balance in the Pacific. First announced in 2016, the H-20 has remained shrouded in mystery, with sparse details emerging through state media and promotional videos hinting at its advanced flying wing design. Deputy Commander Wang Wei of the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) has assured that there are no insurmountable challenges left in the bomber's development. The H-20, dubbed "Storm" by analysts, is poised to enhance China's long-range striking capabilities, potentially reaching as far as the U.S. West Coast with a payload of 45 tons. Comparisons have been drawn between the H-20 and U.S. stealth bombers like the B-2 Spirit and the forthcoming B-21 Raider. As the world awaits its official reveal, the H-20 signifies China's growing prowess in modern aerial warfare and its quest for a qualitative edge in nuclear and conventional strike capabilities.

H-20 Stealth Bomber

China's H-20 Stealth Bomber: A Storm Brewing in the Pacific

The United States Air Force pulled out all stops in December 2022 when it officially unveiled the Northrop Grumman B-21 Raider at an event at the aerospace firm's testing and development facility in Palmdale, California. Now it appears that Beijing may go to similar lengths when it introduces its Xi'an H-20 stealth bomber to the world.

Chinese state media outlet Global Times reported on Monday that the strategic aircraft could be unveiled to the public soon. The aircraft was first announced by the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) commander Ma Xiaotian in 2016, but since that time little official information has been released – apart from a video by the state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China in 2018 and a PLAAF recruitment video in 2021.

"Both videos featured computer-generated scenes of an unknown large aircraft covered in a blanket, with the aircraft's outline suggesting it boasts a flying wing design, but with no further elaboration," the Global Times reported.

"It's coming soon, just wait!" Deputy Commander Wang Wei further told Chinese state-owned newspaper Hong Kong Commercial Daily in an interview on Monday.

Wang, who is also a member of the 14th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), added, "There is no bottleneck, and all problems can be solved. Our scientific researchers are progressing well, they are fully capable."


The H-20 has been described as "a new generation of new aircraft," and could greatly enhance China's aerial warfare capabilities.

"A generation of equipment brings a generation of combat effectiveness," Wang stated.

The Gathering Stealth Bomber Storm

Even as details of the H-20 have remained sparse, the bomber has earned the moniker "Storm" by analysts, who have noted that China alongside the United States is one of the few nations possessing stealth strategic bombers. The H-20's introduction could potentially alter the strategic balance between the U.S. and China, particularly in the Pacific region, Newsweek reported.

As Brent Eastwood previously wrote for The National Interest, "A heavy-payload, deep-penetration bomber would help China alter the nuclear balance with the United States. There is no current arms control agreement with the United States, and Beijing is always looking for a qualitative nuclear edge over Washington."

He added, "The Xian H-20 could also bully China’s neighbors by reaching Japan, Guam, and the Philippines, not to mention pulling a surprise attack against Taiwan. It has an enviable range of around 5,281 miles if reports are accurate, and aerial refueling could make it to Hawaii – and even the West Coast of the United States. The H-20 could also have a weapons payload of 45 tons."


The Xian's flying wing profile has earned comparisons to the U.S. Air Force's B-2 Spirit bomber, as well as the upcoming B-21 Raider. However, few other details about the H-20 have been officially disclosed or made public. Last year, photos of the aircraft were reportedly published in the latest edition of Modern Weaponry, a magazine that is run by the state defense corporation China North Industries Group (Norinco). The four computer-generated images – if they can be believed – may have highlighted some of the bomber's capabilities.

What We Know on H-20 Bomber

Based on recent reports, the Xi'an H-20 likely has an internal weapons bay, two adjustable tail wings, an airborne radar at the front of the aircraft, and two stealth air intakes on each side. In addition, the entire bomber could also be seen covered in a dark gray radar-absorbent material.

It is also believed that the H-20 could be equipped with either conventional or nuclear missiles and that it would have a maximum take-off weight of at least 200 tonnes with a payload upwards of 45 tonnes. It has been further speculated that the aircraft could fly at subsonic speeds and could also be armed with up to four hypersonic stealth cruise missiles.

To date, few photos and even fewer details have ever been disclosed publicly. Yet, it is expected that the shape and size of the aircraft are similar to that seen in a promotional video that was posted to state media in January 2021.


Titled, "Dream of Youth," the recruiting video first appeared on YouTube on January 5, 2021, and it followed a pair of recruits – played by noted Chinese actors Jackson Yee and Wu Jing – as they join the PLAAF and become pilots. It ends with an unveiling of the aircraft that they'll be flying. In the closing moments of the video, a previously unseen bomber was revealed in a type of dramatic fashion normally reserved for automotive trade shows – as a white sheet covering the aircraft was removed, revealing a flying wing design with two intakes at the back of the airframe. Seen only in a reflection of one of the pilot's helmet visors it didn't provide a detailed look at the aircraft, but across social media, it was suggested the aircraft was in fact, the H-20.

That video was produced by the state firm Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) to mark the 60th anniversary of the founding of the XAC. The early 2021 video followed a similar promotional "sizzle reel" that was released in May 2018, which also included a brief glimpse of a similar-looking aircraft partially exposed from under a sheet.

Author Experience and Expertise: Peter Suciu

Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu. You can email the author: [email protected].