Further Information of China’s New PL-15 Long-Range Air-to-air Missile


A J-11B carries PL-15. Photo: dingsheng.com

A J-11B carries PL-15. Photo: dingsheng.com

China’s official military forum mil.huanqiu.com says in its report on November 24 that according to Singapore’s zaobao.com’s report, a number of photos of China’s homegrown long-range air-to-air missile (LRAAM) have appeared on the Internet.

The missile looks like the PL-15 there has been rumors about.

We have a post on September 25 on the missile based on The Daily Beast’s report titled “The New Chinese Missile That Has the U.S. Air Force Spooked”, full text of which can be viewed at http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/09/25/the-new-chinese-missile-that-has-the-u-s-air-force-spooked.html?via=newsletter&source=DDAfternoon

Mil.huanqiu.com says that in the photos, the PL-15 is carried by a J-11BS. The report says that PL-15 is of world leading wing-free design for higher speed and longer range.

Chinese-military-aviation.blogspot.hk website gives the following much more detailed report, but as it has not been cited by official mil.huanqiu.com, the information is not as reliable:

It was first rumored in 2011 that 607 Institute has been developing a new active radar homing long-range AAM (dubbed PL-15?) comparable to American AIM-120D and might have evolved from the earlier PL-12C/D design. Initially the missile was speculated to have small stabilizing fins and tailfins so that would fit into the internal weapon bay of J-20. However the latest images (November 2016) indicated that PL-15 has 4 tail control fins only (coupled with TVC?) and is significantly longer and thicker than PL-12 (length 5.8m, diameter 300mm). Its large size suggests the missile is actually a new class of LRAAM and not a PL-12 replacement. As the result it cannot be carried internally by the 4th generation fighters such as J-20 but is expected to be carried externally by 3.5th generation long-range fighters/interceptors such as J-11D and J-16. However it may still be carried externally by J-20 underneath its wings. The missile appears to be propelled by a dual pulse rocket motor in favor of a ramjet engine, which has a smaller drag and a slimmer size. It is also speculated to fly a semi-ballistic trajectory similar to American AIM-54 in order to achieve an extra long range (range>300km, speed>Mach 4, cruising altitude 30km). PL-15 is believed to feature an advanced guidance system including a two-way datalink and a new active/passive dual mode AESA seeker with enhanced ECCM capability. Before the launch the missile must obtain the target information via datalink from an AWACS, a land-based long-range radar or even a satellite. The launch aircraft disengages right after releasing the missile. After the initial ascent stage, the missile may use Beidou/GPS+INS+datalink guidance during the mid-course cruising stage. At the terminal diving stage, in combination with the AESA seeker, it may also use an IIR seeker as indicated by a small optical window in its nose, which further increases its kill probability amid severe jamming. Therefore this LRAAM could pose a serious threat to high-value aerial targets deep behind the enemy line such as AWACS and tankers, and currently is the only type in this class. It was rumored in November 2016 that a PL-15 was test-fired successfully from a J-16.
– Last Updated 11/23/16

Source: mil.huanqiu.com “Foreign media: Appearance of China’s PL15 air-to-air missile: Powerful weapon for J-20” (summary by Chan Kai Yee based on the report in Chinese)

Source: Chinese-military-aviation.blogspot.hk “PL-15 under Missiles III”

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One Comment on “Further Information of China’s New PL-15 Long-Range Air-to-air Missile”

  1. RSS says:

    “… It is also speculated to fly a semi-ballistic trajectory similar to American AIM-54 in order to achieve an extra long range (range>300km, speed>Mach 4, cruising altitude 30km)”….

    The AIM-54 is over 33 years old having been deployed in 1974. Has it taken over 30 years for the Chinese to develop a missile comparable to this American long range missile?

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