Chinese aviation engineers will have to solve a host of technological and technical difficulties before they can develop a reliable long-range strategic bomber, according to experts.
"Though China is developing large airliners and heavy transport planes, we still lack expertise and experience in the design and manufacture of large aircraft," said Wang Ya'nan, deputy editor-in-chief of Aerospace Knowledge.
"A long-range strategic bomber requires a state-of-the-art structure and aerodynamic configuration as well as a high-performance turbofan engine, and all of these are major problems facing the Chinese aviation industry.
"I don't think these difficulties can be resolved within a short period of time. Fortunately, the Y-20 strategic airlifter is nearing completion, which means we can use the aircraft to test our new engines and design capability."
Fu Guangwen, an associate professor at the PLA National Defense University who studies military technology and equipment, told people.com.cn in an earlier interview that the propulsion, flight control and fire-control systems on strategic bombers are very sophisticated. Only nations with a strong aviation industry, a long history in aeronautic research and a large group of experienced engineers can develop them.
"The development of a strategic bomber is actually a comprehensive test of a nation's technological capacity," he said. "You shouldn't expect China to overcome these obstacles overnight. We must conquer them one by one."
Military observer Song Zhongping said the fact that China lags far behind the United States and Russia in terms of strategic bombers has at least one advantage - the country can avoid many technical traps that others have fallen into, saving time and investment.
"We can adopt all of our cutting-edge technologies on the new bomber, but our engineers must bear one thing in their mind - maintain the development costs at a reasonable level," he said. "Otherwise, we will have an unaffordable plane as expensive as the US B-2."(Chinadaily)