The silhouette of an unknown aircraft was spotted at an evening gala for China's strategic bomber division, leading military observers to speculate on Sunday that it could be the new H-20 stealth bomber.
The gala was held on October 7 at an unspecified strategic bomber division under the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Eastern Theater Command, the official PLA Air Force website reported on Thursday.
At a morale-boosting gala to build a "first-class strategic bomber division," the silhouette of a mysterious aircraft appeared on a big screen in photos released with publicity for the event.
The front of the aircraft did not resemble China's known strategic bomber as it sported angled winglets on the ends of its wings, with no visible tail.
The report did not mention the mysterious aircraft, but online readers speculated that it could be the H-20, China's in-development long-distance strategic stealth bomber.
This is not the first time an aircraft rumored to be the H-20 made a mysterious appearance.
In May the Aviation Industry Corporation of China released footage to commemorate the 60th anniversary of its subsidiary the Xi'an Aircraft Industrial Corporation.
The footage showed a mysterious aircraft shaped like a US B-2 stealth bomber, leading military experts to believe that could be the H-20. But that unknown aircraft had no winglets.
If the H-20 indeed features winglets, that must be a choice made for the new aircraft after balancing all factors including stealth capabilities, a military expert told the Global Times on Saturday. He asked not to be named.
China is independently developing weapons and not necessarily following foreign designs, the expert noted.
The B-2 uses a flying wing design without winglets to reflect less radar waves, making it stealthier, said US manufacturer Northrop Grumman.
Winglets reduce the drag associated with the creation of lift, allowing the wings to be more efficient and making planes require less thrust, Business Insider reported in 2016.