(Photo: Global Times)
Following the unveiling of the latest member of China's '20 series' of warplanes, the Z-20 utility helicopter, China's warplane manufacturer has teased a mysterious new entry, sparking speculation among military enthusiasts about a possible H-20 stealth bomber.
"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.
The words "The Next" reminded Chinese military enthusiasts of a video AVIC released in May 2018, which featured computer-generated footage showing a mysterious aircraft with the caption of "The Next."
There is speculation the aircraft could be China's in-development stealth bomber, the H-20.
AVIC's statement, which mainly introduced the Z-20's participation in the ongoing 5th China Helicopter Exposition in Tianjin, did not explain the nature of "The Next" aircraft.
In 2013, the Y-20 large transport plane developed by AVIC made its maiden flight; in 2016, the J-20 stealth fighter jet made its first public flight at the 11th Airshow China; in 2019, the Z-20 utility helicopter made its parade debut at the National Day parade, the statement said, noting that each development had an interval of three years.
The rapid growth of the "20 family" and its members' successful development shows AVIC's growing innovation capabilities and breakthroughs in development speed, AVIC said, noting that it also shows China's increasing transparency and confidence in aviation equipment.