Eager to match American development in long range bombers such as the B-1, China tried but failed to acquire technology of the Soviet Era supersonic strategic bomber Tu-22M3 Backfire C from Ukraine.
However, 'international conventions' thwarted the attempts by Beijing to acquire the technology or even a complete aircraft from Kiev, various media reported today.
Yet, China may be closer than ever before to the development of a supersonic strategic bomber which can fly fast as well as stay in the sky for a long time, thanks to relentless indigenous efforts.
Its claims over certain islands in the South China sea where it is reclaiming land and building what appear to be naval bases may the reason to desire an aircraft which can carry a 5-10 ton weapons load over a 2500 km round trip. Such a plane could threaten cities and military facilities of rival claimants and flex muscles against the US Navy which has sided with the Philippines and Japan in its attempt to thwart what it calls Chinese expansionism.
While there is no official word from Beijing about the long range bomber project, several analysts have voiced their opinion on the likely configuration. Shao Yongling, a military strategy professor at PLA Second Artillery Corps Command College, has been quoted in the Chinese media as saying that today's air defense system is so advanced and dense, China's next-generation strategic bomber must have stealth capability as well as a large payload, which should at least be more than the six cruise missiles that can be carried by the H-6K.
The Xian H-6K is a medium-range bomber which made its first flight in 2007 and entered service in 2009. The new bomber is expected to be much more advanced both in range, weapons and defensive systems.