The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force will gradually get more J-20 stealth fighters and Y-20 large transport aircraft, as well as the H-20 bomber in the near future to meet the goal of becoming a world-class force, experts predicted, as the service celebrated its 70th founding anniversary on Monday.
A video the PLA Air Force released on Sunday showcased its advanced, main battle equipment, including J-20 and J-16 fighters, H-6N strategic bomber, Y-20 transport plane, KJ-2000 airborne early warning system, and the HQ-9 surface-to-air missile system.
Compared to 70 years ago, when aircraft had to fly over Tiananmen Square twice at the founding ceremony of the People's Republic of China to show that China had strong air power, the new video showed what the PLA Air Force has become today, military observers said.
China now has aerial tankers, electronic warfare aircraft and electronic reconnaissance aircraft, and its fighter jets have evolved from first to fifth generation, Fu Qianshao, a Chinese air defense expert, told the Global Times, noting that this shows the Air Force has a more complete system with more types of aircraft and the latest technologies.
Attending a Friday event celebrating the Air Force's founding anniversary, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for efforts to fully build the PLA Air Force into a world-class air force, the Xinhua News Agency reported on Friday.
A senior official of the Chinese Air Force said in November 2018 that the first step is to, by 2020, build a strategic force that integrates aviation and space power, and strike and defense capabilities, then the strategic capabilities will be improved and become modern by 2035, and the Air Force's full transformation into a world-class force will be achieved by mid-21st century, Xinhua reported.
The Air Force will gradually get more advanced aircraft like the J-20 and Y-20 to achieve that goal, an anonymous military expert told the Global Times, noting that variants and new aircraft will be developed to keep the Air Force technologically advanced and systematically complete.
The H-20, China's in-development, highly anticipated strategic stealth bomber comparable to the US B-2, will fill in the void, the expert predicted, noting that the Y-20 could also see a tanker variant so China could get its first domestically developed large aerial tanker.
More drones could also be developed, the expert said. China already operates drones like the GJ-2 armed reconnaissance drone, GJ-11 stealth attack drone and WZ-8 high-altitude, high-speed reconnaissance drone.
Fu said it is also important to focus on military exercises close to real battles to boost the comprehensive combat capabilities of the Air Force.