PLAAF JH-XX / H-X bomber project


Totoro

Captain
VIP Professional
I did mean WS15 in my last post, not WS20. It was a lapsus.

I do find the discussion of stand off weapons usage as missing the point. Sure, in THEORY, a missile with long enough range is better for certain kinds of missions.

But a simplest very short range guided missile like Hellfire costs around $90 000. (I'll stick to US weapons being bought by USAF so we get a common denominator)

Here are some other missiles and bombs costs. They're mostly all taken from pentagon procurement documents from recent years.
JDAM ~$25 000
SDB I ~36 000 (GPS only)
LGB with GPS ~$40 000
SDB II ~$180 000 (tri mode seeker)
JSOW ~$440 000 (undefined variant. may be average cost af all variants)
JASSM ~$1.3 million
Harpoon blk2 (and slam-er) ~1.6 million
Tomahawk ~1.5 million

Now, how many long range guided missiles does US have, (ground strike only)?
Roughly 4000 tomahawks
Roughly 2600 JASSM/ER
<1000 SLAM/ER

How many unpowered bombs does it have?
Roughly 3000 JSOW (glide bomb, some stand off range)
Roughly 2000 SDB II (glide bomb, some stand off range)

Roughly 28 000 SDB I
Roughly 250 000 JDAM kits
Roughly 300-400 thousand paveways

Even with the JASSM getting to fulfill its 5000 missile plan in the future years, we're talking about roughly 9 to 10 thousand stand off conventional missiles.
Compared to roughly 600 thousand guided bombs of various kind today. (of which some 5000 glide bombs today and some 20 000 in the future, when SDB II procurement plans are met)

Issues with stand off guided missiles are several. They're pricier to buy. They're pricier to upkeep and service. They're more complex and their production takes longer, so sudden surges in procurement take longer.

Then there are mission types.

One needs to scout a location before a strike.

If it's a fixed location like a factory, airbase infrastructure etc, that can mostly be done with satellite. Providing satellites will work in total war scenario.
Damage assessment recon needs to be performed. Satellites can do that though on average they may need hours or days. In some instances there will be higher urgency than that.

Then there are relocatable targets. Like a radar. A SAM battery. Coastal missile battery. Temporary military camp of any kind. Ship in a port. Satellites may need days to spot them as there's just so much ground to be covered. Perhaps not for ships in ports which are fairly known points, but for others - definitely. Usually various other aerial recon methods will spot them first. Various batteries can move around quickly but will usually NOT be doing that 24/7 unless there's a threat from them being spotted.

Finally, there are mobile targets. Not just ones in motion (though those too can sometimes be attacked) but primarily various pieces of equipment which haven't necessarily deployed at the front but are en route. Or artillery parked way in the back. Or we can be talking about individual planes in airbases, sitting around. Any piece of equipment which is likely to move within a few hours unrelated to whether it's being scouted.

The first kind of targets, fixed ones, are the best for stand off missiles. But if one goes just for those, ignoring the others, chances are they're gonna lose. And the usual ratio of targets requiring time crucial hits versus fixed targets is many to one. Possibly dozens to one.

In a lot of those instances there will not be a 100% exact target defined. There will be an area which would first need to be scanned to determine where exactly is that battery or that plane parked or that MLRS or whatever. And recon will need to determine if that's a real target or a dummy. Those sort of recon jobs are not regularly done by U2, Global Hawk or secret spy planes. (even though those too could do it, but those too would need to get fairly close to try to recon) They're done with targeting pods and radar imagining by strike planes' own radar.

Let's look at iraq 2003. 27 700 bombs and missiles were fired. 68 percent were guided. Out of those, perhaps a thousand were stand off weapons.

Now imagine the number of targets needed to be covered in a future US China war. There'd be need for hundreds of thousands of bombs/missiles.

US certainly seems to find stand off missiles to be too expensive and unsuited for most jobs. Otherwise they'd have as many of them as they have other guided bombs.

And stand off weapons are simply not applicable to certain dug in targets. Missiles like tomahawk lack the penetration punch. Even when they use special warheads for that, they still fall behind the penetration power of a 1000 kg bunker buster.

TL; DR No one, not even the rich US air forces with their propensity for guided weapons can afford to wage war with just/mostly stand off missiles. They're used to an extent, to help neutralize the enemy in the opening moments of the battle, or to sometimes reach strategic fixed targets - but those are in reality just a few percent of targets that need to be hit.

If one thinks a war between US and China would be decided only on the seas, hitting ships or perhaps hitting island airbases - they're deluding themselves. In such a war countless islands would be used for countless purposes and *constant, repeated* bombings of those islands and other land masses would be performed. There'd be small scale invasions, there'd be limited scope ground battles, it'd be carnage and persisting air power would be very welcome.
 

AndrewS

Captain
Registered Member
I did mean WS15 in my last post, not WS20. It was a lapsus.

I do find the discussion of stand off weapons usage as missing the point. Sure, in THEORY, a missile with long enough range is better for certain kinds of missions.

But a simplest very short range guided missile like Hellfire costs around $90 000. (I'll stick to US weapons being bought by USAF so we get a common denominator)

Here are some other missiles and bombs costs. They're mostly all taken from pentagon procurement documents from recent years.
JDAM ~$25 000
SDB I ~36 000 (GPS only)
LGB with GPS ~$40 000
SDB II ~$180 000 (tri mode seeker)
JSOW ~$440 000 (undefined variant. may be average cost af all variants)
JASSM ~$1.3 million
Harpoon blk2 (and slam-er) ~1.6 million
Tomahawk ~1.5 million

Now, how many long range guided missiles does US have, (ground strike only)?
Roughly 4000 tomahawks
Roughly 2600 JASSM/ER
<1000 SLAM/ER

How many unpowered bombs does it have?
Roughly 3000 JSOW (glide bomb, some stand off range)
Roughly 2000 SDB II (glide bomb, some stand off range)

Roughly 28 000 SDB I
Roughly 250 000 JDAM kits
Roughly 300-400 thousand paveways

Even with the JASSM getting to fulfill its 5000 missile plan in the future years, we're talking about roughly 9 to 10 thousand stand off conventional missiles.
Compared to roughly 600 thousand guided bombs of various kind today. (of which some 5000 glide bombs today and some 20 000 in the future, when SDB II procurement plans are met)

Issues with stand off guided missiles are several. They're pricier to buy. They're pricier to upkeep and service. They're more complex and their production takes longer, so sudden surges in procurement take longer.

Then there are mission types.

One needs to scout a location before a strike.

If it's a fixed location like a factory, airbase infrastructure etc, that can mostly be done with satellite. Providing satellites will work in total war scenario.
Damage assessment recon needs to be performed. Satellites can do that though on average they may need hours or days. In some instances there will be higher urgency than that.

Then there are relocatable targets. Like a radar. A SAM battery. Coastal missile battery. Temporary military camp of any kind. Ship in a port. Satellites may need days to spot them as there's just so much ground to be covered. Perhaps not for ships in ports which are fairly known points, but for others - definitely. Usually various other aerial recon methods will spot them first. Various batteries can move around quickly but will usually NOT be doing that 24/7 unless there's a threat from them being spotted.

Finally, there are mobile targets. Not just ones in motion (though those too can sometimes be attacked) but primarily various pieces of equipment which haven't necessarily deployed at the front but are en route. Or artillery parked way in the back. Or we can be talking about individual planes in airbases, sitting around. Any piece of equipment which is likely to move within a few hours unrelated to whether it's being scouted.

The first kind of targets, fixed ones, are the best for stand off missiles. But if one goes just for those, ignoring the others, chances are they're gonna lose. And the usual ratio of targets requiring time crucial hits versus fixed targets is many to one. Possibly dozens to one.

In a lot of those instances there will not be a 100% exact target defined. There will be an area which would first need to be scanned to determine where exactly is that battery or that plane parked or that MLRS or whatever. And recon will need to determine if that's a real target or a dummy. Those sort of recon jobs are not regularly done by U2, Global Hawk or secret spy planes. (even though those too could do it, but those too would need to get fairly close to try to recon) They're done with targeting pods and radar imagining by strike planes' own radar.

Let's look at iraq 2003. 27 700 bombs and missiles were fired. 68 percent were guided. Out of those, perhaps a thousand were stand off weapons.

Now imagine the number of targets needed to be covered in a future US China war. There'd be need for hundreds of thousands of bombs/missiles.

US certainly seems to find stand off missiles to be too expensive and unsuited for most jobs. Otherwise they'd have as many of them as they have other guided bombs.

And stand off weapons are simply not applicable to certain dug in targets. Missiles like tomahawk lack the penetration punch. Even when they use special warheads for that, they still fall behind the penetration power of a 1000 kg bunker buster.

TL; DR No one, not even the rich US air forces with their propensity for guided weapons can afford to wage war with just/mostly stand off missiles. They're used to an extent, to help neutralize the enemy in the opening moments of the battle, or to sometimes reach strategic fixed targets - but those are in reality just a few percent of targets that need to be hit.

If one thinks a war between US and China would be decided only on the seas, hitting ships or perhaps hitting island airbases - they're deluding themselves. In such a war countless islands would be used for countless purposes and *constant, repeated* bombings of those islands and other land masses would be performed. There'd be small scale invasions, there'd be limited scope ground battles, it'd be carnage and persisting air power would be very welcome.
For the US military, yes, they do have to hit land targets on mainland China in order to win. Note that most land targets are situated well inland and China does have a lot of hardened facilities as well (eg. mountain airbases) So unpowered weapons would require an aircraft to operate over mainland China, which is really risky. Hence standoff weapons would generally be preferred.

But China has so many military targets that there is no way the US can rely solely on standoff weapons.

In comparison, the the calculation is different for the Chinese military.

If they can disable a handful of airbases and aircraft carriers, they can obtain air superiority over the key airspaces they need for a victory eg. Taiwan, Diaoyu/Senkaku islands

So if the Chinese military were also to acquire 5000+ standoff weapons (like the US) and only use standoff weapons, I think that would be enough.

---

Note that Taiwan is in a category of its own, because it is so close to mainland China that unpowered munitions are viable.
 
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Bltizo

Lieutenant General
Staff member
Super Moderator
@blitzo



If we're looking at 10-15 years in the future, the Chinese military will likely have a requirement for almost every aircraft type in sufficient numbers to justify a completely new class of aircraft.

At the same time, there should be ample funding available to pursue each of these niche capabilities, so they also pass an opportunity cost analysis.

Eg. After 10 years, I reckon there will be a minimum of 400 J-20. But then each additional J-20 only results in a marginal increase in capability.

So by that point, 150+ JHXX regional stealth bombers for naval targets should have a greater cost-benefit ratio than additional J-20.

---
There's a similar calculation for the J-31 mediumweight stealth fighters.

In 5 years, I expect 180+ J-20 in service. Then they would start looking to procure a cheaper J-31 for less demanding air-to-air tasks. And I see a definite requirement for a minimum of 400 J-31 overall.
I note that I think none of us prior to this really described what kind of date we thought of JH-XX to emerge in, which was a bit of an oversight -- but yes, my vision for a hypothetical JH-XX entering service in meaningful numbers would be some 10-15 years into the future.

For that projected timespan, I think it is still safest to argue that there are reasonable arguments for and against the PLA to procure the JH-XX and I don't think we can comfortably say either way.
 

ZeEa5KPul

Junior Member
Registered Member
I note that I think none of us prior to this really described what kind of date we thought of JH-XX to emerge in, which was a bit of an oversight -- but yes, my vision for a hypothetical JH-XX entering service in meaningful numbers would be some 10-15 years into the future.

For that projected timespan, I think it is still safest to argue that there are reasonable arguments for and against the PLA to procure the JH-XX and I don't think we can comfortably say either way.
What combination of speed, stealth, and payload do you expect the JH-XX to have? Something like a B-1B/Tu-160 (fast/huge payload/iffyish RCS)?
 

Bltizo

Lieutenant General
Staff member
Super Moderator
What combination of speed, stealth, and payload do you expect the JH-XX to have? Something like a B-1B/Tu-160 (fast/huge payload/iffyish RCS)?
My vision of it is 60-70 ton MTOW, i.e.: much smaller than B-1B or Tu-160. 60-70t MTOW is a regional bomber. All the discussion around JH-XX for the last few years has basically spoken about it as a regional bomber.

5th generation levels of VLO at least.

Probably too ambitious to aim for proper supercruise, I think prolonged supersonic dash would be more realistic.

up to 2000km combat radius, more if with IFR



But that's just my vision of it based on the model we've seen (which IMO should be key to guiding thinking on what JH-XX may be like)
 

Totoro

Captain
VIP Professional
On the likelihood of us seeing JHXX in the future:

If China did not have H6 or JH7 - I'd say JHXX would be of utmost importance and we'd see a prototype roll out, figuratively speaking, tomorrow.

Since China does have H6 and JH7, priorities are somewhat different.
H20 will add considerable capability over that of H6. This is assuming H20 is indeed a rather big flying wing, around 150 ton MTOWeight. With an unrefueled combat radius of some 8000 km or so.
So double the reach, probably double the payload, immeasurable stealth advantage, which would be crucial for the plane of even having a chance to sneak through the first island chain defences and threaten the farther away targets.
In some ways, H20 would indeed be a game changer for China, adding options that simply weren't even there before. At the same time, H6, even with its recent more modern variants, is still a fairly limited plane. Its very susceptible to interception due to its speed and poor agility, if it flies close to targets. So it is indeed most likely going to be used as a missile carrier. All that narrows its usefulness even more.
So a H20 appearing first, before JHXX is logical to me, as H20 would indeed signal a huge capability leap over its predecessor. (production wise predecessor. It seems very likely H6K family will serve alongside H20 for several more decades)

Now, about JHXX. Assuming it's a supersonic 50-70 ton MTOW plane with significant stealth features, more advanced than J20's. It's reach would likely add 50-100% greater unrefueled combat radius over JH7 and J16 (this assumes 3000 km ferry range for JH7 with drop tanks and 3000 km ferry range for J16, without the ability to use drop tanks. Modeled after Su-30 range figures)
It would likely improve the bomb load over those two by a small margin, even when carried internally. And would be able to carry heavier and bigger weapons than JH7. And equal J16's theoretical weapon weight/size limit, while carrying more of them. 2 versus 1 centerline for J16. This assumes a hypothetical big weapon for J16, carried in similar fashion to Indian Su30MKI and their centerline Brahmos.

It should improve upon JH7 combat speed, perhaps significantly so. It's questionable if JH7 with four pylons laden with weapons could even go supersonic. Also, it would likely match J16 combat speed when lighter loads are carried and exceed it when large number of weapons are carried.

When it comes to stealth and survivability in general, it would be in a whole other league compared to the two. Especially compared to JH7.

But, most of JH7s are some 10-20 years old. And unlike H6, there aren't 120 of them to be replaced but double the number. Perhaps more importantly, JH7 is getting aided by other types to its mission. J16 seems to be quite multirole capable. J10C is joining the fray as well. J20 may also be doing some strike missions and it does bring greater survivability to the table. Suddenly there's a lot of capability being added that just wasn't there 10 years ago. So even though adding JHXX to the mix would improve that overall capability, primarily through added range and payload size/options, the overall increase would not be AS transformative as the addition of H20 is to the bomber force.

So I do understand that PLAAF sees H20 as a more urgent matter. That being said, IF the money is there (which is never a sure thing) the case for JHXX does exist. Eventually it would give additional options to PLAAF, over what it has now and even what it will have with future J20 and even notional J31 fleet. But money may not be there yet. There's the J20 which does have a high priority to be made in very high numbers. There's the naval J31 which is absolutely crucial to make sense of the whole "Let's go into carriers" endeavour. And when the money is already being invested in such a relatively niche product, with hundreds of old planes still needing replacement, it does make sense for PLAAF to buy into J31 to some extent as well, as it'd likely still be cheaper than J20.

So financing continued J20 production, development of J31 and development/production of H20 all at the roughly same time is not something to be taken lightly, no matter how high Chinese military budget is. Which, with the aforementioned expansion of existing strike capabilities with J16, J10C, possibly J20 and even to an extent with future H20 - does make it likely, in my eyes, we will not see a JHXX very soon. It may indeed only start proper development after H20 completes its development. And start mass production only after J31 has started its mass production (I don't really see PLAAF buying scores of J31 anyway. Total numbers may even be less than J20).

It's an important capability addition, that notional JHXX, but it's not absolutely time critical. So I don't expect to see prototype taxiing pictures before 2025, possibly even a few years later. And service entry before 2030-2035. (I also believe we will see a single engine stealth fighter in that timeframe as well, but that's another discussion)
 

Klon

Junior Member
Registered Member
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In a Friday Weibo post, the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council (SASAC) indicated AVIC is developing an "X-20," which internet users identified as the H-20 bomber.

Replying to comments under the post, SASAC said the X-20 was "coming soon," but refused to confirm the H-20 speculation.

Analysts said the H-20 is unlikely to debut in 2020 and will take more time to develop.
For something that's not happening this year, they really keep saying "coming soon" a lot.
THE NEXT……
See you soon
"Maybe in the future not far from now, China's '20 series' aviation equipment will welcome 'The Next,'" reads a statement sent to the Global Times on Thursday from Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), maker of China's warplanes.
 

FangYuan

New Member
Registered Member
Is it technically feasible to convert AN-225 into a bomber? I think if China ordered AN-225 from Ukraine and received TOT. With a team of talented Chinese engineers, it doesn't take long to create a new bomber from a transport plane.
 

Deino

Lieutenant General
Staff member
Super Moderator
Is it technically feasible to convert AN-225 into a bomber? I think if China ordered AN-225 from Ukraine and received TOT. With a team of talented Chinese engineers, it doesn't take long to create a new bomber from a transport plane.

Oh please ... that is an even more ridiculous idea than your proposal to convert the J-10 to a VSTOL variant like the F-35.

Please do your homework.
 

Bhurki

Junior Member
Registered Member
Is it technically feasible to convert AN-225 into a bomber? I think if China ordered AN-225 from Ukraine and received TOT. With a team of talented Chinese engineers, it doesn't take long to create a new bomber from a transport plane.
Converting the like of CR919 into Anti sub and secondary bombers is a much better and efficient solution.
 

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