Strategic Threat: The Chinese air force has added some 130 bombers to its fleet over the past year alone, significantly bolstering Beijing’s nuclear strike capability and ability to hit distant U.S. targets such as Guam.
The Washington Free Beacon reported the bomber buildup is part of China’s larger, long-term effort to build a world-class military by 2050, an objective laid out by President Xi Jinping earlier this year.
Analysts note that China’s buildup is principally aimed at the United States.
The Free Beacon noted further:
The annual report to Congress also reveals that China’s People’s Liberation Army increased long-range bomber flights further from Chinese coasts and conducted training for airstrikes against the U.S. bases in Asia.
“Over the last three years, the PLA has rapidly expanded its overwater bomber operating areas, gaining experience in critical maritime regions and likely training for strikes against U.S. and allied targets,” said the report.
The 2018 report is, notably, 30 pages longer than the 2017 version and pays particular attention to China’s compounding asymmetric warfare capabilities that include space weapons, cyber attack capabilities, most sophisticated information warfare tools, and electronic warfare systems that would be utilized for high-intensity conflicts of a short duration.
Overall, China’s objective is to keep the U.S. Navy at bay during a regional conflict near its homeland, while preventing the Pentagon from resupplying forces in the area, hence the deployment of dozens of newer long-range bombers.
“China is advancing a comprehensive military modernization program aimed at making the PLA into a ‘world-class’ military by 2049,” the Pentagon report said. “This program includes improvements to military capabilities to conduct nuclear deterrence, anti-access/area denial (A2/AD), and power projection operations.”
The bomber buildup is one of this year’s most eye-opening revelations. China’s bomber fleet climbed from around 400 to 530 in the past year alone.
China’s People’s Liberation Army also grew by 65,000 troops, while adding 400 tanks and 2,600 artillery pieces.
In addition, the PLA has increased its strategic nuclear capability.
“China is enhancing peacetime readiness levels for these nuclear forces to ensure responsiveness,” the report says.
The WFB noted further:
Chinese bombers currently include the H-6 and plans are underway for an advanced stealth bomber similar to the U.S. B-2 that the Pentagon says will be designated the H-20.
The new stealth bomber will be deployed in the next decade with a range of at least 5,281 miles and a payload of 10 metric tons—for both nuclear and conventional missiles.
China also appears to be building a new refuelable bomber that could be deployed before the H-20 that will expand offensive bomber capabilities far into the western Pacific.
Two new air-launched ballistic missiles are being developed, one of which will be nuclear armed.