Andreas Rupprecht, a known Chinese aviation expert and Regular Aircraft contributor has recently published pictures of a newly discovered Chinese air-launched missile under the wing of the Shenyang J-16 fighter. Analysts believe it is a big one at about 6m long based.
The J-16 fighter was reverse-engineered from the Sukhoi Su-30MKK multi-role fighter bomber. This aircraft is part of the People’s Liberation Army Airforce also known as PLAAF for short.
The topic of the missile, dubbed PL-XX, and its intended purpose has become a trending topic in different forms of social media outlets. People are discussing the possibilities as the exact capabilities of the missile are still unknown. From pictures, it is apparent that the missile has no forward guidance fins which is uncommon in medium-long range air to air weapons released by China in recent years. Some of these releases includes designs of the Chengdu J-20 stealth fighter internal missiles.
Comparing the new model’s design to the previously released AAMs has caused speculation of whether the new weapon is even an AAM but an anti-radar missile instead. It could be an ultra-long range weapon meant to destroy other aircrafts like the E-3 AWACS surveillance aircraft, or intelligence gatherers like the RC-135. The weapon being carried by a J-16 is not typical for air to ground vessels. Others speculate that the missile is an anti-satellite weapon much like the US Air Force F-15A Eagle from the 80s. Though China has worked on creating and testing anti-satellite weapons, none have been intended to be carried by fighters. Therefore, a conclusion has not been made for the purpose of the missile.
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