In 2019, then-presidential candidate Joe Biden scoffed at the idea that the U.S. was even in close competition with China.
“China is going to eat our lunch? Come on, man. They can’t even figure out how to deal with the — the fact that they have this great division between the China Sea and the mountains in the East — I mean in the West,” Biden told his supporters on the campaign trail.
“They can’t figure out how they’re going to deal with the corruption that exists within the system. I mean, you know, they’re not bad folks, folks. But guess what? They’re not competition for us.”
Biden, however, backtracked on that claim earlier this month, after spending a mere four months as president of the United States.
“The Chinese are eating our lunch. They’re eating our lunch economically. They’re investing hundreds of billions of dollars in research and development. That’s why right now if it keeps going their way, they’re going to own the electric car market in the world,” Biden said.
“They’re going to own a whole range. We gotta compete. We gotta compete.”
When we look at what China has been up to in the past decade, it’s a wonder Biden was not concerned before.
Over the last few years, satellite images have picked up the construction of a massive hangar near “Luhe-Ma’an,” a Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force bomber base located approximately 30 miles north of Nanjing in eastern China. The new facility is surrounded by high-security fencing and is “detached” from the main base.
Joseph Trevithick, who authors a column called The War Zone, obtained satellite images of the progress of its development via Planet Lab and Google Earth, and provided some insight into what its purpose might be. He included many of the photos in his report.
The images show that work on this “mysterious secluded facility” began in 2017. Trevithick estimated the hangar to be 265 feet long and 245 feet wide — three stories high.
He believes that “the remote nature of the installation and its fortified perimeter indicate that it is used to support sensitive work.”
There are two layers of fencing around the perimeter. According to Trevithick, there are “guard towers and lights along the northern edge, and gates on the taxiway … that leads to Luhe-Ma’an’s main runway.”
He explained that the facility emerged “ahead of reports that one of the units at this base, the 30th Air Regiment, appeared to be operating the WZ-8, a large high-speed and high-flying rocket-powered spy drone designed to be launched in mid-air from the H-6N missile carrier aircraft. The construction has also come amid persistent rumors about the imminent public debut of China’s H-20 stealth bomber.”
“The primary aircraft based at Luhe-Ma’an are variants of the H-6 bomber, itself derived from the Soviet Tu-16 Badger, including the H-6H, H-6J, and H-6M missile carrier versions.”
Trevithick compared satellite images of this extension to existing ones at other PLAAF bomber bases, “but none of them have the same level of associated infrastructure and security measures, or as are secluded and highly developed, as the one seen at Luhe-Ma’an.”
Ok, here the summary… According to this report, the PLAAF’s 10th Bomber Division got also the latest H-6J replacing either the older H-6H within the 29th or the H-6M within the 30th Air Regiment at Luhe/Ma’an division subordinated to the Eastern Theater Command. pic.twitter.com/SCdDy5FGVk
— @Rupprecht_A (@RupprechtDeino) February 26, 2021
Trevithick is skeptical that this new structure is “simply an expansion of the base’s infrastructure given the distance from the main portion, the additional security perimeter, and the unique set of self-contained facilities there. Typically, these kinds of features point to areas of military bases where uniquely sensitive activities occur.”
Rumoured to have entered service in June 2018, it seems as if this serial number ‘21311’ confirms the WZ-8 being operational within the 10th Bomber Division, a H-6M bomber unit in eastern China facing Taiwan and Japan.
(Image via js7tv via Huitong’s CMA blog) pic.twitter.com/CPL8diRv6B
— @Rupprecht_A (@RupprechtDeino) October 2, 2019
Even if the WZ-8 was unveiled during the 70th anniversary parade on 1st October, their serial numbers have been either erased on most images or covered slightly before the real parade. Now, here are 21311 & 21312 from the 10. Bomber Division.
(Image via Hitong’s CMA-Blog) pic.twitter.com/IbJdk0XBhS
— @Rupprecht_A (@RupprechtDeino) December 11, 2019
He went into great detail about the capabilities of the WZ-8 drone and noted that while it’s “no longer secret,” its sensitivity may warrant “more specialized facilities, such as the ones at Luhe-Ma’an.”
And he pointed out that the location of these facilities in eastern China provides the nation with “ready access to multiple areas of strategic significance in the western Pacific region.” Think Taiwan and Alaska.
Une dizaine de bombardiers H-6M de la 10e division de PLAAF, basée sur la côte Est de la Chine, a participé récemment à un exercice de tirs et de qualification de pilotes. Parmi les appareils figure une variante qui semble être l’avion-porteur du drone RECCE supersonique WZ-8. pic.twitter.com/CVsFkoivQy
— East Pendulum (@HenriKenhmann) April 19, 2021
This could be the first clearer image of a H-6MW drone carrier for the WZ-8 high speed high altitude recce UAV. It clearly has a pair of clamp pylon/adaptor to its belly, the regular wing pylons & the small ventral pylon removed but has a new dorsal SATCOM antenna installed. pic.twitter.com/TaGJNVXcGf
— @Rupprecht_A (@RupprechtDeino) April 19, 2021
Trevithick also speculated the facility could potentially provide a new home for China’s still unveiled H-20 stealth bomber which “has reportedly been in development, at least on some level, since the early 2000s.” Though the Chinese have been very secretive about the H-20, it is “reported to be a flying wing-type design very roughly analogous to the U.S. Air Force’s B-2. The parking/runup area on the apron at the facility in question is roughly the same dimensions as the B-2.”
Reasons why this hangar may have been built to house the H-20, according to Trevithick, include its enhanced security and its ability “to fly, even just for test and evaluation purposes, from an established bomber base. A large hangar would be particularly useful to shield these aircraft from both prying eyes and the elements.”
He noted that the U.S. has built a similar facility at Edwards Air Force Base in California to prepare for the expected 2022 arrival of the B-21 Raider stealth bomber.
There’s also a chance, he said, it “is related, in some way, to the restoration of the PLAAF’s strategic nuclear mission, which formally occurred in 2017, according to the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA).”
Or the Luhe-Ma’an facility could have been built for something else entirely. Whatever its ultimate purpose, Trevithick is convinced the construction of this hangar and “the other associated infrastructure hidden away within its security perimeter,” are an indication that “some significant and sensitive activity [is] going on at the base.”
While it’s not clear what exactly the facility is meant to house, it seems evident that civilian infrastructure is not the only thing undergoing rapid construction in the country. Military installations are being expanded and hardened as China surges again. Hangers are just as important as the aircraft they house — these hold the tools, parts, fuel and experts that keep the warplanes in service.
Regardless of what this facility was built for, it’s simply one more sign of China’s insatiable hunger for domination. It needs to be checked. And if not by the U.S., then by whom?
This is a time for strength. And we are being led by a buffoon.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.