A Chinese J-11B fighter jet is photographed carrying a new type of air-to-air missile. Photo: China Central Television
The J-11B fighter jet has become the latest user of China's self-developed world-class air-to-air missile that was feared by senior US military officers, revealed China's national broadcaster on Monday.
A photo appeared on a China Central Television (CCTV) program on Monday shows a J-11B under the People's Liberation Army Air Force carrying a large missile under its wing.
The J-20 stealth fighter jet carried the same type of missile and made public display at the Airshow China 2018 in Zhuhai, South China's Guangdong Province, in November 2018, CCTV reported.
This is the first time a J-11B is spotted carrying this type of missile, the report said.
"Judging from the shape and aerodynamic design plus the J-20 reference, the missile is very likely to be the PL-15 air-to-air missile," Wei Dongxu, a Beijing-based military analyst, told the Global Times on Tuesday.
Wei compared the PL-15 with the US' latest AIM-120 missile, as both have very long effective range that would allow the launch platform to become an airborne sniper, enabling an aircraft to hunt hostile fighters, early warning aircraft and aerial tankers from beyond visual range.
A J-11B fighter jet attached to an aviation brigade of the air force with the PLA Northern Theater Command flies at low altitude through valleys during a flight training exercise on January 8, 2019. Photo: eng.chinamil.com.cn
US media outlet the National Interest said the PL-15's effective range could be much higher than the AIM-120's 180 kilometers, but that could be an exaggeration, according to Wei.
The PL-15 is also equipped with an active electronically scanned array radar, which makes evasion very difficult, Bloomberg reported.
Then-US Air Force general Herbert Carlisle voiced serious concern about the PL-15 missile when it was first made public in 2015, as he called on the US Congress to fund a response, the Bloomberg report said.
Wei said the technology of the PL-15 has matured, so it can now be put on a variety of platforms, including the J-11B.
By equipping the missile, the J-11B's aerial combat capability can be greatly boosted, the CCTV report said.
The J-11B is less advanced than other Chinese fighters like the J-20, and some military observers said the J-11B's radar could be outdated in a way that it cannot see far enough what the PL-15 can hit at maximum range.
But that would not be a problem if the fighter is supported by other warplanes like an early warning aircraft, which can send target data to the J-11B, Wei said.
Dubbed by Chinese military observers as the "aerial trident," the J-20, J-16 and J-10C fighter jets, conducted air defense penetration drills in June 2018, with all of them reportedly carrying the PL-15 missiles. Now the J-11B could join the PL-15 club.a
Sunday, June 03, 2018
Here it is -- PLAAF's tip of the spear "Ménage à trois" for air defense penetration
China's fighter jets hold 'perfect combination' training
China's People's Liberation Army Air Force recently conducted combat training involving three types of its most advanced fighter jets, carrying air-to-air missiles, which a Chinese expert called a perfect combination.
China's most advanced stealth fighter jet, J-20, conducted joint training with multi-role strike fighter J-16 and multi-role fighter jet J-10C, engaging in air defense penetration drills, China Central Television (CCTV) reported on Thursday.
The fighter jets used domestically developed mid-range air-to-air missile PL-15 and short-range air-to-air missile PL-10 in the training, Beijing-based news website Sina reported on Saturday.
"The three fighter jets… and the two missiles are perfect combinations," Song Zhongping, a military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Sunday.
The J-20 is capable of destroying a hostile air defense system. The J-10C can then take air supremacy, while the J-16 can strike enemy ground forces, Song said, adding that using the PL-15 and PL-10 together can cover both long-range and short-range aerial combat.
"The combination will serve as an important aerial deterrent against external forces," Song added.
J-20 with J-10 to its left
Sunday, November 12, 2017
Offical photo of the day: J-11B with next generation of Chinese AAM (PL-10 ASRAAM and PL-15 LRAAM)
Judging by this photo released by China's official Xinhua news agency yesterday, the PLAAF has retrofitted their older J-11B heavy fighters with this latest pair of advanced AAM. They are not just for PLAAF top-of-the-line anymore.
J-11B with PL-10 and PL-15 AAM
J-10C with PL-10 and PL-15