The Washington Times Daily - - WORLD -

Se­cu­rity an­a­lysts dis­cov­ered a new weapon in the Chi­nese air force arse­nal — an air-launched mis­sile dubbed the PL-XX. The mis­sile was pho­tographed by Chi­nese mil­i­tary en­thu­si­asts and posted on­line — of­ten the method used by Bei­jing au­thor­i­ties to dis­close the first de­tails of weapons sys­tems.

The mis­sile is over 15 feet, much longer than medium-range air-to-air mis­siles like the PL-12 or the U.S. AIM-120 ad­vanced medium-range air-toair mis­sile.

Pri­vate-sec­tor mil­i­tary an­a­lysts say spec­u­la­tion about the mis­sile ranged from the PL-XX be­ing used as an air­craft-launched anti-satel­lite mis­sile or as a mis­sile to at­tack en­emy radar. Richard Fisher, a China mil­i­tary spe­cial­ist, be­lieves the mis­sile most likely will use a “lofted” or bal­lis­tic tra­jec­tory to ex­tend its range up to 186 miles.

“It is sim­i­lar to the Rus­sian No­va­tor KS-172 re­vealed in 2003, which also uses a bal­lis­tic tra­jec­tory to achieve 300-kilo­me­ter to 400-kilo­me­ter ranges,” Mr. Fisher, se­nior fel­low at the In­ter­na­tional Assess­ment and Strat­egy Cen­ter, told In­side the Ring.

“A Chi­nese air-to-air with a 300-kilo­me­ter (186-mile) or greater range would pose a new and un­ac­cept­able threat to U.S. air power in Asia, as well as to the air forces of ma­jor U.S. al­lies,” Mr. Fisher said.

The likely tar­gets of the mis­sile are large and slow-mov­ing elec­tronic sup­port air­craft like Air­borne Warn­ing and Con­trol air­craft and re­fu­el­ing tankers that are cru­cial for cur­rent U.S. air dom­i­nance op­er­a­tions.

“To de­ter China the U.S. needs to quickly de­velop a sim­i­lar very long range air-to-air mis­sile while both ad­dress­ing the weak­nesses of the Chi­nese air-to-air mis­sile and in­creas­ing the sur­viv­abil­ity of U.S. large­sup­port air­craft,” Mr. Fisher added.

Rapid field­ing of a new long-range U.S. ae­rial strike mis­sile could be used to counter Chi­nese elec­tronic sup­port air­craft that pro­vide lon­grange tar­get­ing data for their new mis­sile.

Also, fu­ture U.S. sup­port air­craft should be made with greater radar-evad­ing stealth fea­tures along with new ac­tive anti-mis­sile de­fenses like lasers.

Mil­i­tary correspondent David Axe, writ­ing for the on­line War Is Bor­ing web­site, said the new mis­sile was flight-tested re­cently and may be ca­pa­ble of strik­ing U.S. war­planes at twice the range from which Amer­i­can pilots can shoot back.

Mr. Axe stated that the mis­sile’s mo­tor may pro­pel it up to six times the speed of sound.

An­a­lysts say spec­u­la­tion on use of China’s new mis­sile ranges from an air­craft­launched anti-satel­lite mis­sile or as a mis­sile to at­tack en­emy radar.

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