Missiles I


It has been rumored for a long time that Israel sold the Python-3 technology to China in the 80s, although this was never publicly acknowledged by either side. The result is PL-8 (K/AKK-8?), an all-aspect IR-guided AAM distinguished by its unique swept tail stabilizing fins and a large warhead (11kg). Several variants were developed, including the original PL-8, the improved PL-8A (with more domestic components) and the latest PL-8B. PL-8B was first discovered in mid-2005 featuring a PL-9 style all-aspect InSb seeker and a programmable digital processor, which offer a wider off-boresight angle. Its range has been increased to 20km. The missile is also compatible with Chinese made HMS. Since then this version has replaced PL-8/8A. PL-8B has been seen carried by J-7D/E/G, J-8D/H/F, J-10/A/B/C, J-11B/BH, JL-9 and JH-7A replacing the old PL-2B/PL-5B. Currently the missile is the primary WVR weapon in PLAAF's arsenal until the new PL-10 enters the service (see below). 
- Last Updated 7/23/16


PL-9 IR-guided missile was first developed in the late 80s based on PL-8/Python-3 technology and is for export only. It has an all-aspect InSb seeker and a radio fuse. Its range is 500m minimum and 16km maximum. Speed is Mach 3.5 and load is 40g. Its forward control fins look similar to those of AIM-9L (double delta). The latest variant of PL-9 is called PL-9C with improved multi-band IR seeker and a new programmable digital processor giving it a greater IRCCM capability and higher killing probability. Its range is also increased to 20km. Here two PL-9C AAMs are seen being carried by a F-7PG fighter to be delivered to PAF. However PAF eventually decided to procure AIM-9Ls for its F-7PG fleet instead. PL-9C has become the standard air-to-air weapon for the F-7NI/BG/BGI/NM series exported to Nigeria, Bangladesh and Namibia.
- Last Updated 11/29/16

A PL-10E AAM was on display in front of a PLAAF J-10B fighter at the 2016 Zhuhai Airshow. PL-10 (K/AKK-10?) is a new generation IIR-guided short-range missile in the same class of AIM-9X, ASRAAM, A-Darter, AAM-5 and IRIS-T. It features an IIR seeker (containing a 128x128 focal plane array?), a laser proximity fuze and TVC, giving the missile a 90° off-boresight angle and a max load of 55g. PL-10 possesses an excellent IRCCM capability against modern fighter aircraft maneuvering at high-gs. It also has a "lock-after-launch" capability, which could extend its range to BVR. When coupled with HMD, the missile allows the pilot to engage a target over his shoulder without maneuvering the aircraft extensively. Similar to AAM-5 and IRIS-T, the latest design (circa 2013) features 4 enlarged tail stabilizing fins plus 4 narrow stabilizing strips attached to the mid-section of the missile body, which help maintain missile's maneuverability at the terminal stage after the solid motor stops working. PL-10 has a length of 2.96m, diameter 0.16m, weight 105kg, max range 20km. The development of PL-10 started in 2005 with a different tail stabilizing fin design and a test round was launched from the ground in November 2008. The development was thought to be a success after the missile was test-fired from a CFTE J-11B in 2010, and subsequently it entered the initial production in 2013. PL-10 is expected to be carried by J-10B/C, J-11D and J-16 fighter bomber as well as internally by J-20 and FC-31 stealth fighters which are still under development. A recent rumor (September 2015) claimed that a PL-10 was test-fired successfully from a J-10C. PL-10 was offered for export as PL-10E at the 2016 Zhuhai Airshow. It was rumored that the next generation of short-range IIR-guided missile (PL-16?) is already under development.
- Last Updated 1/1/17


A PL-12 active radar homing AAM was being fired from a PLAN J-10A fighter. PL-12 (K/AKK-12?) was under development at LETRI/607 Institute since early 90s. The missile was expected to be in the same class as AIM-120A/B and its active seeker may have evolved from the earlier AMR-1 design (R-129? based on Russian 9B-1348 seeker & datalink for R-77). Its tailfins appear to have fin tips as well as the leading edges of the fin root cropped. These specially designed tailfins are believed to possess lower drag for greater speed and higher torque for better maneuverability. Two datalink antennas can be seen next to the nozzle for mid-course correction. Several dielectric strips are seen along the middle warhead section which house the radio proximity fuse. PL-12 completed its development test in December 2004 and was certified in 2005. Its export version is called SD-10 (SD-10A as the improved version) and was first revealed to the public during the 2002 Zhuhai Airshow. Currently it is in the service with J-8F/DF, J-10/A/B/C, J-11B/BH, J-15 and Su-30MK2. In addition SD-10A is being carried by JF-17 currently in service with PAF. Some specifications of SD-10: length 3,850mm, diameter 203mm, wing span 674mm, weight 180kg, max g-load 38g, max speed 4M, range 60-70km. Recently produced PL-12 is expected to feature an improved seeker with new digital processor and SINS. The improved PL-12 (PL-12A?) is thought to be comparable to American AIM-120C4. It was reported in November 2010 that PL-12 may feature an active/passive dual mode seeker in order to achieve greater ECCM capability and kill probability. Several improved versions were proposed by the 607 Institute, including PL-12B with improved guidance system, PL-12C with foldable tailfins for internal carriage by the 4th generation fighters (e.g. J-20) and PL-12D with a belly air inlet and a ramjet motor for long range attack similar to PL-21 (see below). In 2013 images of J-20 undergoing weapon integration tests indicated that a modified PL-12 (PL-12C?) with cropped fins has been developed which fits into J-20's main internal weapon bay. During the 2012 Zhuhai Airshow a new anti-radiation air-to-ground variant was unveiled as LD-10 with a range of 60km, which could equip JF-17 as well. It was reported that PAF ordered 100 LD-10 in 2011 and 50 was delivered between 2014 and 2015.
- Last Updated 11/20/16


A new long-range active radar homing AAM has been under development which appears similar to British Meteor. It features an active radar seeker and an integrated ramjet/solid rocket motor with a single or twin belly air inlets. PL-21 also features 4 small stabilizing fins behind the active radar seeker, a characteristics of Russian R-27/AA-10. Two-way datalink antennas may be installed in the tail section for mid-course correction. The effective range of PL-21 is expected to be >150km. The missile could be carried by J-11D for long-range interception. It was rumored that the first ground launch test took place in March 2010. PL-21 is expected to be carried by the new generation of stealth fighters including J-20 and FC-31. The latest rumor (March 2016) suggested that a PL-21 was test fired from a J-16.
- Last Updated 3/14/16


YJ-83K is a turbojet powered AShM based on the YJ-83 SSM. YJ-83K (H/AKJ83) features a frequency agile radar seeker and has a sea-skimming capability. It also features datalink and has a range of 180km. Its cruising altitude is 20-30m (5-7m during terminal phase), cruising speed is 0.9M. It weights 715kg and carries a 165kg warhead. It was rumored that the missile could reach supersonic speed at the terminal stage but this turned out to be false. YJ-83K is being carried by the naval JH-7/JH-7A (up to 4), H-6G (up to 4). It is also expected to be carried by J-10AH and the new J-15 (up to 2) in service with PLAN. A similar export version called C-802A was also developed and is being carried by PAF JF-17. Iran reverse-engineered C-802 as Noor which can be carried by its F-4. C-802A can also be carried by the new FC-31 still in development.
- Last Updated 1/14/17


Two Kh-31P ARMs were on display at a PLAAF airbase as part of the Su-30MKK's weapon package. Up to 6 Kh-31Ps can be carried by an Su-30MKK as a Wild Weasel aircraft. It can also be carried by the naval Su-30MK2. This supersonic missile is distinguished by 4 ramjet engines attached to its body which give the missile a range of 70km and a speed of Mach 3. It features an L112E passive seeker (with three interchangeable modules to cover different frequency bands) and its weight is 600kg with a 87kg warhead. The domestic version of Kh-31P has been produced locally under a license as YJ-91 (KR-1/H/AKJ91?), which can be carried by JH-7A, J-8G even the new FC-31 and is compatible with the Chinese fire-control system. In addition, the anti-ship version (Kh-31A) was also acquired and is being carried by the naval Su-30MK2 while its domestic counterpart (YJ-91A?) could be carried by the naval JH-7A, J-10B as well as the J-15 onboard aircraft carrier Liaoning. The introduction of Kh-31/YJ-91 ARM has enabled PLAAF to fly SEAD missions against enemy long-range SAM defences. The anti-ship YJ-91A is expected to be surpassed by the bigger and heavier YJ-12.
- Last Updated 11/17/16


PL-90 is one of the smallest and lightest AAMs in the world developed specifically for helicopter self-defence against enemy helicopters and slow moving fixed-wing aircraft. A total of 8 PL-90s were seen carried by Z-9WA/WZ attack helicopter. Its length is 1,862mm, diameter 90mm, weight 20kg, warhead 3kg, range 500-6,000m, engage altitude 0-6,000m, max speed 2 Mach, max load 20g. It features a dual-band IR seeker with a good IRCCM property, giving the missile an all-aspect engage capability. It also features a laser proximity fuse as well. PL-90 appears to have been derived from shoulder-launched QW-1/2 SAM which is comparable to the American Stinger missile. Its export version was first revealed at the 1998 Zhuhai Airshow as TY-90. PL-90 entered the service with PLA Army Aviation in 2006. The missile can be carried by Z-9W/WA/WZ, Mi-17/Mi-171, Z-10 and Z-19. However PL-90 has still yet to prove its effectiveness in real combat due to its small size.
- Last Updated 1/19/16


As part of the Su-30MKK's weapon package, R-77E/AA-12/RVV-AE active radar homing AAM has provided PLAAF for the first time with a real match to the AIM-120/MICA/TC-2 in service with Taiwanese AF. Its significance also lies with the development of new tactics and doctrines to allow PLAAF to engage enemy aircraft in a purely BVR and multi-target fashion, even though these tactics and doctrines took a few more years to mature. R-77E is distinguished by its four unconventional grid fins on its tail which give the missile an excellent agility. R-77E can also be carried by the upgraded Su-27UBK, J-11A as well as Navy's Su-30MK2. Some of R-77's technology was believed to have been adopted by the indigenous PL-12 (see above), which would eventually replace R-77E.  At least 400 R-77E have been ordered from Russia during the 2000s. Some specifications: length 3.6m, diameter 0.2m, weight 175kg, range 65/0.3km, max load 35g.
- Last Updated 1/15/16


A rare view of an R-27ET1 medium-range IR homing AAM carried by a PLAAF J-11 is shown here. R-27ER1 (AA-10C) medium/long range semi-active radar homing AAM features a larger and longer rocket motor giving the missile a max range of 100km compared to the original 70km of R-27R1 used by Su-27SK. R-27ER1 also has a max speed of Mach 4. A few hundred R-27ER1 were reportedly acquired and are being carried by Su-27SK/J-11s. The aircraft is thought to have the fire-control software upgraded to enable it to fire R-27ER1. It was discovered some time later that PLAAF also acquired R-27ET1 IR-guided AAMs as well. It was reported in October 2010 that PLAAF planned to upgrade R-27ER1 with the new 9B-1101K semi-active radar seeker developed by Ukraine but it turned out to be false. Currently the longer range R-27ER1/ET1 are being carried by J-11 in combination with the shorter range R-77E.
- Last Updated 11/14/15