Military Review

Heroes of their time. Promising long-range bombers of Russia, the USA and the PRC


First official image of the US Air Force B-21 Raider

The leading countries of the world are planning to re-equip their long-range aviation... To this end, a promising bomber Northrop Grumman B-21 Raider is being developed in the United States, the Tupolev is engaged in the PAK DA project in Russia, and the Xian H-20 aircraft is being created in China. Not much is known about these planes, but there is already an opportunity to compare them and find similarities or differences.

American "Raider"

According to open sources, the B-21 Raider for the US Air Force will be a subsonic long-range bomber with a "flying wing" design. The project uses the open architecture of the onboard equipment. When creating the airframe and parts of the systems, modern developments on the topic of stealth are taken into account.

The exact tactical and technical characteristics of the "Raider" remain unknown. There is reason to believe that it will be similar in size and weight to the serial B-2A Spirit. At the same time, new technologies and components will improve flight performance and economic performance. The B-21 ammunition will include existing and future missile and bomb armaments for long-range aviation of the United States.

B-21 in the hangar of the airbase - so far only demo graphics from the US Air Force

Air Force plans provide for the construction of approx. 100 new bombers. They will have to replace the existing B-1B and B-2A aircraft. The deployment of production vehicles in units will begin in the middle of the decade; the initial operational readiness of the first squadrons will be achieved in the second half of the twenties.

Russian complex

The "promising long-range aviation complex" is still secret, but there are fragmentary data and various assessments that allow us to imagine its appearance. PAK DA is being built according to the "flying wing" scheme and will be subsonic. It is proposed to use the most modern avionics, as well as advanced turbojet engines based on one of the existing products. Measures to reduce visibility are expected.

PAK DA will have to fly to intercontinental range and carry at least 20-30 tons of payload. The range of weapons will include both modern and advanced models. The bomber will be able to carry bombs and missiles of various types, incl. hypersonic - nuclear and conventional.

Possible appearance of the Russian PAK DA. Graphics

In May, it became known about the start of construction of the first experimental PAK DA. In addition, testing of the new engine at the flying laboratory will begin this year. The first flight will take place by 2025, and the start of the series and development in the troops are scheduled for the second half of the decade.

First Chinese

China is developing its own long-range bomber for the first time. Xian Aircraft Industry Corporation builds the H-20 or HX aircraft. For obvious reasons, very little is known about him, and the available data often contradict each other. In particular, various sources talk about the use of an integrated circuit or "flying wing" with a sub- or supersonic flight speed. However, they talk about a decrease in visibility. Assumptions are made about the use of Russian technologies or components.

The aircraft must have a flight range without refueling of approx. 8-10 thousand km, which will allow him to operate outside the so-called. Second chain of islands. The combat load is at least 10-12 tons. The topic of weapons for the H-20 remains closed, but the use of modern and advanced cruise missiles is assumed.

The same model, view from a different angle. Graphics

According to various sources, the Xian H-20 was developed from the beginning of the 2013s, and a prototype was built in the early tenths. Allegedly, since 2016, he passed flight tests. The existence of the project was officially disclosed only in 20. Not so long ago, foreign media reported that work on the H-XNUMX could be completed this year, and the finished aircraft will be shown at the next aviation exhibition.

Three "wings"

At the moment, only the appearance of the American B-21 bomber has been officially disclosed. The appearance of the PAK DA and H-20 remains unknown - although different versions are offered. In addition, the Chinese bomber is often identified with various models that have appeared at exhibitions of the past.

However, the main features of the three aircraft seem to be already known. In all cases, we are talking about subsonic stealth bombers of the "flying wing" scheme with high flight performance and significant combat load. Apparently, it is precisely this appearance of a strategic missile carrier that meets the modern requirements of the air force.

The “flying wing” scheme has the most obvious explanation. This architecture of the aircraft allows you to get the best ratio of flight performance and internal volume of the airframe - under load or fuel. With equal parameters of size and mass, the "flying wing" will have better aerodynamics, range and load.

One of the variants of the appearance of the Xian H-20. Graphics

In addition, the "flying wing" makes it possible to somewhat reduce the visibility for locators - and in combination with other technologies, it gives an "invisible plane". It is assumed that all three new bombers will be unobtrusive, and such wishes of the customers are quite understandable. If the enemy has a developed air defense system, traditional means of protecting a missile carrier in the form of speed or flight altitude are no longer a guarantee of survival and mission accomplishment. Now, complex solutions are required, including stealth, electronic warfare, etc.

Long-range missiles are becoming a kind of means of increasing aircraft survivability. They make it possible to distance the launch lines from the air defense zones, and in combination with an inconspicuous carrier, they make the attack unexpected and leave the enemy a minimum of time for a reaction. The PAK DA and B-21 ammunition load may include promising hypersonic missiles - with understandable consequences for combat effectiveness.

The best of the best?

Since the exact shape and tactical and technical characteristics of the three future strategic bombers remain unknown, it is difficult to compare them. In addition, it is not possible to determine which aircraft is better than others and what its advantages are. However, the tabular data of all these machines will become known in the foreseeable future and will definitely not be ignored.

Now, with only limited data, it is possible to compare the future B-21, PAK DA and H-20 with existing aircraft of this class. This comparison will clearly show how the views of the command of the three countries on the role, appearance and characteristics of long-range bombers have changed in recent years. Apparently, the air forces of the two countries have revised the basic concepts of long-range aviation, and the third continues to develop old ideas.

Another version of the HX skin based on one of the exhibition layouts. Graphics

The American B-21 differs markedly from the supersonic B-1B, but looks like a direct development of the ideas of the stealthy B-2. It follows from this that the future of long-range aviation in the Pentagon is associated with subsonic aircraft, primarily stealthy. The Russian PAK DA is replacing the turboprop Tu-95MS, but in the future it will also replace the supersonic Tu-160. For many years, the ways of developing domestic long-range aviation have been discussed, and the command seems to have chosen a subsonic, inconspicuous direction.

With the Chinese project, the situation is slightly different. The PLA Air Force is armed with long-range bombers of the H-6 family - copies and modernized versions of the old Soviet Tu-16. In fact, any completely new aircraft will be better than the old H-6. A subsonic "flying wing" with a large payload fits perfectly into this logic.

Heroes of their time

For obvious reasons, the requirements for combat aircraft, incl. to strategic missile bombers are constantly changing. Several decades have passed since the creation of previous long-range bombers for the USSR / Russia, USA and China Air Forces - and much has changed since then. Accordingly, it is required to change the look of long-range aviation and create new equipment.

The exact shape and all the characteristics of the B-21, PAK DA and H-20 bombers are still unknown. However, it can be argued that it fully meets the current wishes and needs of the customer. It seems that the time of supersonic bombers for breaking through air defense has passed, and now the ideal long-range aviation aircraft looks different. In the coming decades, strategic tasks will be solved by not the fastest, but invisible aircraft with long-range hypersonic missiles.
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  1. Lebed
    Lebed 20 July 2020 15: 14
    Apparently, all three devices will be similar to each other, since the technologies are approximately the same. The American certainly has some head start because of the B-2.
    1. Mavrikiy
      Mavrikiy 21 July 2020 06: 14
      Quote: Lebed
      Apparently, all three devices will be similar to each other, since the technologies are approximately the same. The American certainly has some head start because of the B-2.

      Legs, legs ... tail! repeat The engine determines and decides a lot. wink Efficiency, visibility, thrust-to-weight ratio. Glider face, engine not only heart, muscles ... repeat
    2. Sailor
      Sailor 21 July 2020 08: 40
      Even if ours gets on the cruise line, then in 30 years, there is no money for such purchases, not all United Russia members have bought yachts and private planes.
  2. Mavrikiy
    Mavrikiy 20 July 2020 15: 17
    Not so long ago, foreign media reported that work on the H-20 could be completed this year, and the finished aircraft will be shown at the next aviation exhibition.
    Soon only cats will be born and bombers from the PRC. But as blind as kittens, 10-12 tons of bombs, not seriously. The Chinese would have to sit on the sidelines, not get confused, see what adult uncles are doing, no, we, and we ourselves ... negative
  3. Pavel57
    Pavel57 20 July 2020 15: 24
    Apparently the PRC has a large selection of engines.
  4. Lebed
    Lebed 20 July 2020 15: 29
    Our bomber is portrayed with winglets all the time. I wonder if they are needed on the "flying wing"? Most likely, there are simply no other pictures, and in real life everything will be different.
    1. 5-9
      5-9 20 July 2020 17: 23
      With a normal wing, they are not particularly needed on a paksovoz ...
    2. abc_alex
      abc_alex 21 July 2020 13: 55
      Quote: Lebed
      Our bomber is portrayed with winglets all the time. I wonder if they are needed on the "flying wing"? Most likely, there are simply no other pictures, and in real life everything will be different.

      It has been said many times that these pictures are the fantasy of some designer. The real appearance of the PAK-DA has not yet been announced.
  5. Vladimir Mashkov
    Vladimir Mashkov 20 July 2020 15: 48
    A good article about the three future leaders of long-range aviation. I wonder if someone else will design such bombers?
    1. Grazdanin
      Grazdanin 20 July 2020 16: 19
      Who else needs them?
      1. Vladimir Mashkov
        Vladimir Mashkov 20 July 2020 16: 50
        Many people dream about them. But not everyone is capable and able.
      2. alexmach
        alexmach 20 July 2020 16: 52
        Small Britons and French? for neo-colonial politics?
        1. Grazdanin
          Grazdanin 20 July 2020 16: 56
          Why should they? Mali bomb?
          1. alexmach
            alexmach 20 July 2020 17: 01
            Well, at least. Quickly prepare and strike at someone in the same Africa.
            1. Grazdanin
              Grazdanin 20 July 2020 17: 12
              Come on, Mirages 2000 will cope there. Except for China, Russia and the United States, no one else needs strategists, these 3 countries need strategists to strike at each other.
  6. 5-9
    5-9 20 July 2020 17: 21
    The B-21 should be noticeably smaller and cheaper than the B-2, otherwise it's not clear why it is needed this way ... And the problems in strategic aviation in the United States are more likely in the absence of a long-range missile than in an airplane ... China desperately needs a bomber .. We ... Not really, there are new missiles, the production of Tu-160M ​​is being revived.
    ... If only for the prospect after 35 years ...
    1. vVvAD
      vVvAD 21 July 2020 01: 33
      We are primarily interested in the new capabilities of the new aircraft while maintaining or improving the existing ones: for example, expanding the radius, stealth, the ability to launch RVV BD, PSR and RN VB - i.e. to be a universal air arsenal, capable, for example, of long-term loitering together with AWACS under the cover of fighters, providing air A2AD at a great distance from ourselves, for example, in the interests of the Navy or in conditions of local conflicts such as the Syrian and Libyan - then we could alone change the rules of the game in the event of geopolitical crises.
  7. fa2998
    fa2998 20 July 2020 17: 52
    Quote: Lebed
    some head start because of B-2.

    But not only! Northrop has a wealth of experience in flying wing aircraft. They built and flew YB-35, YB-49, etc.
    We have such a first, and only in the picture.
    And as I understand it from the article, we are making "our B-2", and the Americans are replacing this B-2 model. They are a generation behind. And with our slowness, I think the United States will quickly roll out a new bomber.
    1. Tugarin
      Tugarin 20 July 2020 18: 12
      Well, in this thread we need to start with something. Of course, it is easier for the Americans, they already have operating experience.
  8. Operator
    Operator 20 July 2020 18: 27
    The best strategic bomber already exists - the 9M730 Burevestnik.
  9. Bez 310
    Bez 310 20 July 2020 18: 34
    And why spend the letters on such nonsense?
    So, a set of rumors, pictures, and dreams ...
  10. Maks1995
    Maks1995 20 July 2020 20: 19
    If there are no planes, then there is nothing to compare. Fortune-telling and unemployment insurance for various "experts"
  11. Aleks2000
    Aleks2000 20 July 2020 23: 13
    There are no airplanes. TTX no. No print run. There are no images. Production - and even then no. (Well, except for amers in part).
    But for some it doesn’t matter.
    Already "Heroes". And a subtle hint of projection and noodles - "our time" ...
  12. businessv
    businessv 22 July 2020 10: 17
    Since the exact shape and tactical and technical characteristics of the three future strategic bombers remain unknown, it is difficult to compare them.
    The main message of the article! Since we don't know anything, there is actually nothing to write about!