PLAAF J-10C Fighter Jet Spotted Carrying Four PL-15 air-to-air Missile For The First Time

PLAAF J-10C Fighter Jet Spotted Carrying Four PL-15 active radar-guided very long range air-to-air missile. The PL-15 entered military service in 2016 and is carried by Shenyang J-16 and the Chengdu J-20, aircraft.

In a recent CCTV report on a brigade of the Chinese Air Force, images of four PL-15 active radar-guided air-to-air missiles mounted on a J-10C fighter were exposed for the first time.

J-10 C fighter aircraft has been spotted with Chinese high agility PL-10 5th Generation Within Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile and PL-15 Beyond Visual Range Air to Air Missile (BVRAAM).

The PL-15 employs improved active radar seeker as well as dual pulse rocket motor to destroy targets at extend range when compared to PL-12 beyond-visual-range missile. Its clipped wings will also means this missile is well suited to be internally carried by fifth generation J-20 fighter jets.

PLAAF J-10C Fighter Jet Spotted Carrying Four PL-15 air-to-air Missile For The First Time
Credits: CCTV

For a long time, the air combat missions of the J-10 have been equipped with 2 PL-12 active missiles + 2 PL-8 fighting missiles, two fewer mid-range missiles compared to the 4 AIM-120 + 2 AIM-9 of F-16 fighters, which affects its sustained firepower output in air combat beyond visual range.

PLAAF J-10C Fighter Jet Spotted Carrying Four PL-15 air-to-air Missile For The First Time

The J-10 family’s wingspan is limited because of the canard delta wing aerodynamic layout. J-10 fighters can only be equipped with three pylons under the wing and cannot install a pair of fighting missile slide rails on the wing tip like the trapezoidal wings of traditional layout fighters. As a result, the number of air-to-air missiles mounted on the aircraft is limited.

According to analyst Bai Zhandao, in order to obtain a practical combat radius in air combat missions, the J-10 needs to mount three auxiliary fuel tanks on the wing root and belly, and only four pylons in the middle and outside of the wings could mount air-to-air missiles.

PLAAF J-10C Fighter Jet Spotted Carrying Four PL-15 air-to-air Missile For The First Time
Chinese J-10C sporting PL-10 and PL-15 AAM’s

After J-10 fighters were put into service, designers designed a double-linked under-wing pylon with a small weight. Such pylons can directly replace the original heavy-duty weapon pylons in the middle of the wings of the J-10.

They are connected to the missile launching slides through two front and rear herringbone beams. Two medium-range missiles can be mounted on a slide at the same time, so the fighter’s air combat weapons reach the mainstream level of 4 medium and 2 short missiles.

In addition to J-10C, such twin pylons are also equipped with J-20 stealth fighters, which allows the aircraft to mount eight more medium-range bombs in its “beast mode” using four under-wing suspension points.

In addition, such pylons also help the Pakistan Air Force’s JF-17/FC-1 fighter achieve a considerable air combat mission mount of 4 medium and 2 short missiles.

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