China's Next Generation AW & ACE Killer Missile : PL-17 And PL-15 Missile Specification

China's Next Generation AW & ACE killer missile: PL-17

In 2016, the United States deployed 14 F-22s at Yokota Airbase in Japan to counter China. But the problem with the F-22 is that it can't fly in stealth for more than 45 minutes, as its internal fuel capacity is very low. So the United States deployed some refueling tankers and AW & ACE in Japan to support the F-22s.

These refueling tankers have increased the likelihood of F-22 attacks inside China, and AW & ACEs have moved closer to hotspot Chinese airspace, annoying China by spying on China. But when the Chinese fighters came down, they fled.

Modern warfare is won by strategy, not by force. If China destroys the refueling tankers, the US F-22s will become neutral, so that China can stop the US attack without a fight. For this reason, China needed an extra long-range missile to intercept US tankers and AW & ACE, which would be so large that US AW & ACE would not be able to escape. Missiles in this category are called "very long range air-to-air missiles" abbreviated as VLRAAM. To that end, China launched a VLRAAM missile project called PL-XX.

The PL-17 Extra Long Range BVR Missile comes into service under this project. In 2017, a 19-foot-long image of the giant missile was released at the hard point of a J-16 fighter, causing a stir. The missile is so large that its length is 26% of the length of a J-16 fighter. However, the funny thing is that the public thinks it is PL-15 and makes it viral, and also makes the fighter killer PL-15 a non-maneuverable AW & ACE killer.


The BVR missile is usually large in size so it can be easily caught on the radar. Especially AW & ACE Gula detects BVR from 2-3 hundred kilometers away. And once the missile is identified, they can evade the missile with defensive steps. To solve this problem, China has used semi-ballistic trajectory technology in PL-17.

Semi-ballistic trajectory

Normal BVR missiles launch straight towards the target after launch. But PL-17 is the opposite. Suppose PL-17 is launched from a height of 15 km. The missile will then go up to a height of 30 km without going towards the target and going upwards like a ballistic missile. Then from that height will continue to move forward parallel to the target. It will then land on the target like a ballistic missile and hit the target.

This is done for two reasons. The first is to save fuel, the second is to deceive the enemy.

First, at high altitude the air is very thin, it goes without saying. As a result, there is little to no wind blowing and no friction. So a lot of distance can be covered in a short time by spending a little bit of fuel there. This theory is also used in ballistic missiles. And with this technology, PL-17 can go a long way by wasting less fuel.

Second, when a BVR missile is launched, it is detected on the long range radar of the enemy's AW & ACE aircraft. But the AW & ACE can scan around the aircraft's radar but can't scan too much distance upwards. As a result, when the PL-17 moves at high altitude, it disappears from the radar of AW & ACE. The enemy does not even know that the messenger is coming over his head. Thus, the opponent remains in the dark until the missile comes very close. By the time he realizes, it's too late.

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PL-17 Missile's Hypersonic speed

The PL-17 is a hypersonic missile. During fire, it is at supersonic speeds, but after reaching high altitudes, its speed exceeds that of the Mac6. It maintains hypersonic motion even at the moment of target destruction in the terminal phase. So after the fire, the enemy will not even know when and from where it will come.

Pl-17 Missile Sensor system

  1. Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar
  2. Infrared / Electro Optical Seeker

Since it has AESA radar, it will be very difficult to jam it. And even if you jam, what is the benefit, if the radar is jammed, the IR seeker will be activated and the target will be destroyed through it. That means the chances of being able to evade PL-17 are very low.

Chinese Missile's Guide system
PL-17 is a VLRAAM so its guidance system is quite complex. It has a two-way data link system and a midcourse guidance system on the satellite.

It is very easy to fire it for all these features. There is no problem even if the radar range of the aircraft from which the fire will be fired is low. After the fire, the missile can be guided by ground radar or AW & ACE via Data link.

Again, no problem with AW & ACE. It can be guided through military satellites. Then when it gets close to the target, the target is detected on the missile's own radar and it is destroyed.

Maneuver Capability
You will notice that there is no fin on the front of the PL-17 missile. For this reason, there is no reason to be happy thinking that the missile is not very maneuverable. Because even if there is no forward fin, it has a secondary thrust system like a ballistic missile.
The secondary thrust system maneuvers the missile by pushing the thrust in the opposite direction to where the missile wants to maneuver.

The question is why Finn used this complex technology instead? Because it is a hypersonic missile. You will also see that there is no fin in ballistic missiles, because that too is hypersonic. Moreover Finn does not work there as the air is very thin at high altitude.
Although the PL-17 missile is a tanker, bomber, cargo aircraft, AW & ACE,


Some Of The Rumors And Realities About PL-15 Missiles

There are currently two rumors about the PL-15 missile, they are ..
1. Its range is 300 kilometers.
2. It's not overly manipulative, so it's not usable against fighters.

In fact, these two rumors have been created for a special reason. That is another missile project called PL-XX from China. Last year, a picture of a huge 19-foot-long missile went viral on the hardpoint of China's J-16 fighter. And that is what is called PL-15 missile. And this is the beginning of this rumor.


In fact, the missile mounted on the hard point of the J-16 is a missile built under China's PL-XX project. It will be named PL-17 according to the formula. This PL-17 is a refueling tanker and AWACS killer long range missile. Its approximate range is 300 kilometers. AWACS planes at US bases in Japan often come close to Chinese airspace, annoying China. China has built this missile called PL-17 to suppress those US AWACS. Some people have continued to call this PL-17 image and feature as PL-15.

In fact, the size of PL-15 is not so big, its length is equal to PL-12, that is 13 feet. Its range is not even 300 kilometers. The actual range of PL-15 is 200 kilometers. And the PL-15 is a high maneuverable fighter killer missile.

Compare US AIM-120
The AIM-120B version has a length of 12 feet and a range of 75 kilometers.
The AIM-120C version has a length of 12 feet and a range of 108 kilometers.
The AIM-120D version is 12 feet long, but has a range of 160 to 180 kilometers.

How did it happen? Why is there so much difference in the range of missiles of the same size? The reason is that in the latest version, America has made major changes in the technology and engine of the missile. As a result, even though the size is the same, the range has increased a lot.

The same is true of PL-12 and PL-15. The PL-12, whose export name is SD-10, is a Chinese copy of the US AIM-120C. And the PL-15 is made as a copy of the US AIM-120D.

The weight, size and design of PL-12 and PL-15 are very similar. However, the fins of the PL-15 are a little different. Its range has been greatly enhanced by changes in technology and engines. And like the AIM-120D, the PL-15 is a high-maneuverable fighter killer missile. China uses the PL-15 as the main weapon in their state-of-the-art Fifth Generation Fighter J-20. Understand that the PL-15 is currently the best missile in China.

Hopefully I have been able to dispel misconceptions about the PL-15. I will post a detailed article about the working of PL-15 in the future.


  • The range of PL-15 is 200 km.
  • The range of PL-17 built by Project "PL-XX" is 300 km.
  • The PL-21 under construction by Project "PL-XX Ramjet" has a range of 400 km.
  • When in service, the PL-21 will be a formidable fighter killer powered by a 400 km

range Ramjet engine. And this will be the prime weapon of J-20. The PL-15 currently in service is comparable to the AIM-120D and Meteor. But when PL-21 arrives, Meteor, AIM-120D will lag far behind Europe-America will be under severe pressure if it cannot build more sophisticated missiles inside.
- Anirban Page (Translated)
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