In the early 1980s, China began work on making an infrared guided PL-8 missile. The PL-8 is believed to be a copy of Israel’s Rafale Python-3 missile. Python-3 has been developed by Rafael Advance Defense Systems. Many experts claim that China’s PL-8 missile was manufactured in collaboration with Israel at that time. At the time, China was impressed by Israel’s demonstration of the Python-3 missile over Lebanon in 1982 and requested a technology transfer. The PL-8 missile was first deployed in the Chinese Air Force in 1988. This missile is capable of flying at a speed of Mach 3.5. The operational range of this missile is only 20 km. In such a situation, it can be launched only during close encounter. However, China has made many more variants of it, whose range is much more than the old one. This missile has been deployed on J-10 fighter aircraft and J-20 fighter aircraft.
Considering the limited power of the PL-8, China manufactured the PL-10 missile. It is also known as PL-Advanced Short-Range Missile (PL-ASRM). It is the most advanced of China’s air-to-air missiles. It is compared to the missiles of America. The PL-10 is fitted with an Imaging Infrared (IIR) seeker, thrust-vectoring exhaust nozzle, laser proximity fuse. China claims that this missile is capable of taking turns even at an angle of 90 degrees. Being equipped with Imaging Infrared, this missile detects its target better. Not only this, many devices have also been fitted in it to avoid enemy radar jams. The length of this missile is about 3 meters, which can hit its target up to a distance of 20 km.
During the development of PL-1, China also started working on PL-15 missile. PL-15 is an active radar guided air to air missile. China wanted to make this missile like the US AIM-120D. The PL-15 has been developed by Luoyang-based CAMA. The missile was first tested in 2011, although it was first mentioned in the Chinese media in 2015. The PL-15 was inducted into Chinese military service from around 2015 to 2017. This missile has been deployed on Chengdu J-10C, Shenyang J-16 and Chengdu J-20 fighter aircraft. It has also been seen on Shenyang J-11B. Being equipped with a dual pulse rocket motor, the range and speed of this missile are quite good. The PL-15 missile can strike a range of more than 200 km. The missile is fitted with an electronically scanned array radar seeker. This missile is 3.8 to 4 meters long, which can fly at a speed of Mach 4.
PL-17 or PL-20 missile
Apart from the PL-15, China has another air-to-air missile. It is known as PL-17 or PL-20. There is very limited public information about this. Commonly known in the West as PL-XX. It is said to be a very long-range air-to-air missile. This missile has been developed to target Aerial Refueller and AWACS aircraft. This missile is designed to destroy high value targets flying at long distances in enemy airspace. It may be named PL-17 or PL-20.