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PLA Air to Air Missiles/ PAF AA–Details

This topic will give a brief view of Pak China AA defence. Some recently inducted Chinese missile and,where Pakistan armed forces standing in comparison to our rival neighbor AA inventory,which has front line Russian AA inventory.A short history of Chinese missiles and import of technology

The PLA-AF and PLA-N operate a diverse mix of indigenously manufactured and imported Russian Air to Air Missiles (AAM), carried by a no less diverse fleet of combat aircraft.

While imported Russian R-27 / AA-10 Alamo, R-73 / AA-11 Archer and R-77 / AA-12 Adder AAMs are primarily used with the imported Russian built Su-27SK / J-11A and Su-30MKK/MK3 Flankers, indigenous Chinese built weapons are dominant across the Chinese built fleets of J-10A/S Sinocanard, J-11B Sino-Flanker, J-8 Finback, J-7 Fishbed, J-6 Farmer, A-5/Q-5 Fantan, and JH-7 Flying Leopard.
China manufactures only two Beyond Visual Range (BVR) guided AAMs, the active radar guided PL-12/SD-10 “Sino-AMRAAM” and a reverse engineered semi-active radar guided Selenia Aspide Mk.1, designated the PL-11.

A much more diverse inventory of heatseeking short range weapons exists. These include analogues or derivatives of a range of Western missiles, such as the AIM-9 family and Rafael Python 3 series, and uniquely Chinese developments such as the TY-90, designed for air combat between helicopters.

Most Chinese built AAMs have been adapted for use as SAMs, either land based, naval, or both. Most are also being offered widely for export.

In perspective, the unpalatable reality of this decade is that Australia’s RAAF faces a genuine ‘rainbow threat’ environment across the wider region. The sheer diversity of missile types in service or being introduced, be they of US, Russian, EU, Israeli or Chinese origin, and the prospect of evolving regional clone variants and derivatives, presents a genuine long term problem in intelligence gathering, analysis and countermeasures library maintenance.

Two key issues have arisen during this decade. The first is the large scale export of advanced variants of the Russian R-74, R-27 and R-77, arming MiG and Sukhoi fighters. These weapons are highly competitive against US and EU sourced AAMs operated by the RAAF, and can be expected to further evolve over time. With diverse mixes of seeker types in the BVR missiles, defending against them will present real challenges. A robust apporach will require investment in training, including simulation, tactics development, and adequate electronic and infrared countermeasures on RAAF aircraft. none of these considerations have been addressed to date in existing or planned RAAF aircraft.

The second issue to arise is the future export of very long range ‘AWACS killer’ missiles, which are the poor man’s equaliser against an opponent with an advantage in AEW&C capabilities. Much of the current force structure plan is predicated on the RAAF holding an assymetric advantage in AEW&C capability over any opponent, indefinitely. Missiles such as the R-172 and R-37 allow any Sukhoi operator to threaten an opposing AEW&C aircraft from a safe distance.

There can be no doubt that a future RAAF force structure will have to be planned around missile capabilities now developing across the region, and compromises are simply not an option in the long term.
Resources

Australian Aviation – August 2004 – The Sleeping Giant Awakens (PLA-AF/PLA-N)
Defence Today – Sept 2004 – 2010+ Regional Futures
Defence Today – January/February 2006 – Regional Developments 2005
R.D. Fisher – IASC – China’s Emerging 5th Generation Air-to-Air Missiles (Recommended)

While some confusion remains about designations, most sources identify the SD-10 and PL-12 as the same missile, China’s equivalent to the AMRAAM. This weapon is in sizing and configuration very similar to the AIM-120A, but employs a unique tail planform. Equipped with an active radar seeker, and datalink aided inertial midcourse guidance, this missile is a credible player against the AMRAAM and R-77 series. The indigenous AMR-1 active seeker is identified with the PL-12, and numerous reports exist claiming that it is a derivative of the Russian Agat 9B-1348E seeker package used in the R-77 series. The missile is widely credited with superior range performance to the AIM-120A-C variants.

The production status of the PL-12 is unclear, but the missile has been claimed as a future weapon for the indigenous J-10 fighter and the Su-27SK and Su-30, replacing imported R-77s on the latter. The missile has been photographed on the J-10A, J-10S and J-11B.

A variant with an all aspect infrared seeker may exist, analogous to Russian heatseeking variants of the R-27 / AA-10 Alamo and R-77 / AA-12 Adder.

There is little doubt that the PL-12 closes most of the technology gap between Chinese built BVR missiles, and in service Western BVR missiles.

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