CHINA UNVEILS NEW AIR-TO-AIR MISSILE
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-to-air 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 (186mile) 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 long-range 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.