Missiles I

The latest image (September 2021) suggested that a gliding standoff submunitions dispenser has entered the service with PLAAF. It is speculated to be in the 500kg class (based on NORINCO GB-6?) and guided by Beidou/GPS. The dispenser appears similar to American AGM-154 JSOW and can be delivered by JH-7A or J-16.

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-7E/G, J-8F, J-10/A/B/C, J-11B/BH, J-15, Su-30MK2, JL-9 and JH-7A replacing the old PL-2B/PL-5B. It is the primary WVR missile in PLAAF's arsenal until the new PL-10 enters the service (see below). 
- Last Updated 12/2/18


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 4/29/17


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 HOBS 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 HMDS, 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 was seen carried by J-10A, J-10AH, J-10B/C, J-11D and J-16 fighter bomber as well as internally by J-20 and FC-31 stealth fighters, replacing PL-8B. PL-10 was offered for export as PL-10E at the 2016 Zhuhai Airshow. The first foreign customer is believed to be PAF JF-17 Block III. It was rumored that the next generation of short-range IIR-guided missile (PL-16?) is already under development.
- Last Updated 4/27/21


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 was 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 (see PL-15) and PL-12D with a belly air inlet and a ramjet motor for long range attack similar to PL-20. 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.
- Last Updated 2/25/20


It was first rumored in 2011 that 607 Institute was developing the next generation of active radar homing LRAAM dubbed PL-15 replacing PL-12 which is comparable to American AIM-120D. The missile was initially speculated as a PL-12 variant (PL-12C?) but it appears to be a new design. PL-15 features redesigned stabilizing fins and tail control fins with smaller wingspans in order to fit into the internal weapon bay of J-20 (up to 4). A major improvement of the missile is a new a dual pulse rocket motor which could extend its range up to 200km. Its two-way datalink and a new active/passive dual mode AESA seeker onboard will give it an excellent ECCM capability against severe jamming. A PL-15 prototype was first seen underneath the wing of a J-11B testbed in 2012. In 2013 PL-15 was first seen inside J-20's main internal weapon bay during its weapon integration tests.  It was reported by US intelligence that PL-15 was successfully test-fired from a J-11B in 2015. In 2016 PL-15 started to be carried by J-10C, J-11B and by J-16 a year later. The latest rumor (March 2019) claimed that PL-15 has been cleared for export as PL-15E.
- Last Updated 10/6/19


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/L (up to 4), H-6J (up to 6) and J-15 (up to 2) as well as J-10C (up to 2) and J-16 (up to 4) in service PLAAF. A similar export version called C-802A was also developed and is being carried by PAF JF-17 as well as by MAF JF-17M. Iran reverse-engineered C-802 as Noor which can be carried by its F-4. C-802A c0uld also be carried by the new FC-31. An improved version called YJ-83KH has been developed featuring an IIR seeker. The latest image (September 2021) indicated that the latest version of YJ-83K (YJ-83KG?) features an active radar/passive IIR dual mode seeker to enhance its anti-jamming capability.
- Last Updated 9/8/21


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 15-100km 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), which can be carried by JH-7A, J-10B, J-10C, J-15 and J-16 even the new FC-31 and is compatible with the Chinese fire-control system. The missile can be supported by the KL700A ECM pod which provides the radar frequency and location information. In addition, the anti-ship version (Kh-31A) was speculated to have been acquired and carried by the naval Su-30MK2 while its domestic counterpart (YJ-91A? H/AKJ91?) could be carried by the naval JH-7A, 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 defenses.
- Last Updated 11/8/20


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. The latest image (June 2021) suggested that an improved variant (PL-90A?) has entered the serivce with PLA Army. The missile features a redesigned forward control fins and a bigger diameter body housing a larger solid rocket engine. Consequently its speed/range and agility have been improved.
- Last Updated 6/3/21


As part of the Su-30MKK's weapon package, R-77/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-77 is distinguished by its four unconventional grid fins on its tail which give the missile an excellent agility. R-77 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 could eventually replace R-77 At least 400 R-77 have been ordered from Russia since the 2000s. Some specifications: length 3.6m, diameter 0.2m, weight 175kg, range 80/0.3km, max load 35g. With the delivery of Su-35S in 2017, PLAAF is believed to have acquired a new batch of R-77-1 (RVV-SD) AAMs, which is heavier (190kg) and longer (3.71m), and has a longer range (110km) than R-77. However it is still thought to be inferior to the latest Chinese design (PL-15).
- Last Updated 1/30/18