China tests its stealth bomber H-20's capabilities opposite Ladakh

China tests its stealth bomber H-20's capabilities opposite Ladakh
Representational ImageSource: Pixabay

New Delhi, June 13: China is conducting the final trials of Xian H-20 strategic stealth bombers at its Hotan airbase, opposite eastern Ladakh, as the US pulls out its troops from Afghanistan and the border standoff with India continues.

Top government sources said that H-20 bombers are aimed at ending the edge India acquired through the acquisition of Rafale jets.

The final trials of the long-range strategic stealth bomber began on June 8 and will continue till June 22, the day that marks 100 years of the formation of the Communist Party of China (CPC).

The Xian H-20 strategic stealth bomber has stealth feature and long endurance, coupled with capability to carry heavy payloads, which could potentially dodge the "detect and disable radar" capability of India's newly-inducted Rafale aircraft.

India had signed an inter-governmental agreement with France to procure 36 aircraft at a cost of Rs 59,000 crore in September 2016. After the arrival of the sixth batch last month, the Indian Air Force has now received two-third of the planes ordered from France. Rafale is a 4.5 generation aircraft and has the latest weapons, superior sensors and fully integrated architecture. It is an omni-role aircraft which means it can carry out at least four missions in one sortie.

India had displayed the capability of Rafale aircraft in eastern Ladakh and also where it will be positioned. China has not yet announced where H-20 likely to be deployed after assessment of the final test runs and possible tweaks at its bases opposite Ladakh.

China, which has touted induction of H-20 bombers as a "game changer", is the third country after the US and Russia to possess stealth technology for fighters.

The move could have repercussions for geopolitics in the region as also power play by the US and its allies in the disputed South China Sea and Taiwan.

The jets have enhanced "beyond visual range" (3,000 km) and significant payload can make these bombers hit targets in Balochistan, Afghanistan or Ladakh even without crossing the boundary. As per a 2020 Pentagon report on Chinese military power, the H-20s are estimated to have a range of 5,281 miles and lift capacity of 10 tons of munitions.

China started development of the H-20 bombers in 2010 when India was negotiating with France's Dassault Aviation to buy 126 Rafale jets.

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