|China's new supersonic bomber, the Xian H-20, could be ready later this year, completing the country's nuclear triad (artist's impression) - dailymail|
China's new supersonic stealth bomber could be ready later this year.
The feared Xian H-20, which doubles China's strike range and completes its nuclear triad, puts Australia, Japan and Korea all within range.
It would mean China would join the US and Russia is possessing a three-pronged military force that can launch nuclear missiles from air, land and sea.Beijing has been weighing up when to roll out the bomber amid escalating tensions due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Military sources told the South China Morning Post the bomber could make its first public appearance at this year's Zhuhai Airshow in November.
The sources said: 'The Zhuhai Airshow is expected to become a platform to promote China's image and its success in pandemic control – telling the outside world that the contagion did not have any big impacts on Chinese defence industry enterprises.'
Amid an escalating war of words between Washington and Beijing over COVID-19, the bomber could further ramp up tensions by exposing US bases and fleets in the Pacific.
Both countries have increased naval patrols in the Taiwan Strait and the South and East China seas.
The H-20 is a strategic bomber similar to the B-2 or B-21, according to the US Defense Intelligence Agency.
The US defence department has estimated a cruising distance of more than 5,300 miles for the H-20.
The bomber will be equipped with nuclear and conventional missiles with a maximum take-off weight of more than 200 tonnes.
Another source said: 'Like intercontinental ballistic missiles, all strategic bombers can be used for delivering nuclear weapons … if China claimed it had pursued a national defence policy which is purely defensive in nature, why would it need such an offensive weapon?'
They also revealed that if the US deploys more F-35 supersonic fighter jets, it would push China to bring forward the unveiling of the bomber.
The US has already sold around 200 of the fighter jets to Japan and South Korea.
The H-20 is believed to have been in development since the early 2000s, but the project was first publicly announced in 2016.