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China likely to examine 400-km range air-to-air missile

  • China is likely to examine an air-to-air missile with 400-km range capable of taking out early warning and aerial refuelling aircraft. If successful in test, the weapon's range will overpass those of the US and Russia.

    Though no official introduction has been made for the potential new weapon, its appearance has been noticed by military experts, many of whom believe such a weapon would boost the combat capabilities of air force.

    As of now the longest range air-to-air missile of the US is the AIM-120D with 200 km range while Russia owns the R-37 and K-100 air-to-air missiles with operational ranges of close to 400 km.

    The Chinese fighter jets at present use the PL-11 and PL-12 missiles to target long-distance targets, however their maximum ranges are limited to less than 100 km.

    An equipment researcher of the PLA Air Force, Fu Qianshao suggested that China has developed a new missile that can strike high-value targets including early-warning planes, aerial refuelling aircraft that are generally away from conflict zones.

    Most of the air-to-air missiles under operation globally possess a maximum range of around 100 km, whereas just a couple of new types that are propelled by ramjets can reach 200 km, Fu added.

    However, none of them is suitable for fighting early-warning planes due to their short ranges. In his words, long-range ground-to-air missiles are limited by their fixed deployment when dealing with planes far away. 

    The range of this missile is expected to be at least 400 km which could be farther than any of the air-to-air missile being used by western countries. The nation has already examined anti-satellite missiles.