China confirms developing next-gen long-range bomber

General Ma Xiaotian, People's Liberation Army Air Force chief, said the new bomber would enhance China's long-range strike capability "with even greater strides to come."

By: PTI | Beijing | Published:September 7, 2016 7:27 pm
china, china news, china airforce, china next generation strategic bomber, china people's liberation army air force, china airforce news, world news In this undated file photo released by Xinhua News Agency, a Chinese H-6K bomber patrols the islands and reefs in the South China Sea. China is pitted against smaller neighbors in multiple disputes over islands, coral reefs and lagoons in waters crucial for global commerce and rich in fish and potential gas and oil reserves in the South China Sea. (Source: AP)

China is developing a next-generation strategic bomber to boost airforce’s long-range capability, a top military officer has said ending years of speculation it was eyeing new firepower to replace its Soviet-era aircraft.

General Ma Xiaotian, People’s Liberation Army Air Force chief, said the new bomber would enhance China’s long-range strike capability “with even greater strides to come.”

“We are now developing a next generation, long-range strike bomber that you will see sometime in the future,” he told reporters in Changchun, Jilin province, at a PLA Air Force open day, official media reported.

The PLAAF commander’s remarks publicly confirm for the first time that China has been working on a long-range bomber project.

Ma’s confirmation puts an end to years of speculation on whether China would develop a new aircraft to replace its half century-old H-6 bomber series, state-run China Daily reported.

Though he did not provide details, China’s definition of a long-range bomber is to have a minimum range of 8,000 kilometres without refueling, experts say.

Currently, the PLA Air Force only has an unknown number of H-6 bombers, which were developed based on the Soviet-era Tu-16 Badger that was designed in the 1950s and retired by Russia in the early 1990s, the report said.

US Strategic Air Command has the Boeing B-52, Rockwell B-1 and the Northrop Grumman B-2 Stealth Bomber, while Russia’s Long Range Aviation Command has the Tupolev Tu-160, Tu-95 and T-22M.