A photo of previously unknown Chinese long-range air-to-air missiles has appeared on the Web. Such missiles can be used to destroy strategic bombers or AWACS systems.
Authoritative military resource Jane's posted a photo of a Chinese J-16 two-seat heavy fighter armed with two unknown missiles. According to experts, we are talking about testing new long (or ultra-long) range air-to-air missiles. Now nothing is known about the characteristics of the new product. According to experts, the missile is 6 m long and 300 mm in diameter.
New missiles of the PRC Air Force / © Janes
An active radar homing head is probably installed in the bow. So in the final section, the rocket will be self-guided to the target. Apparently, the new product is designed to destroy large, low-maneuverable targets at long range. In other words, the missile is optimized for dealing with strategic bombers (such as the Russian Tu-160 or the American B-52H), airborne radio detection and guidance systems (AWACS), and tanker aircraft. In some cases, such missiles can also be effective against fighters.
The development of a new long-range air-to-air missile is an important milestone for the PRC Air Force. Given the growing role of the air force, such a product could become one of the main pledges of Chinese military domination in the Asia-Pacific region.
Long-range air-to-air missiles are few. Now Russia operates the R-33, and is also developing a replacement for it - the R-37. At the same time, the Americans completely abandoned such products - the United States finished operating the long-range AIM-54 Phoenix air-to-air missiles in 2004.
Compared to medium-range air-to-air missiles, products such as the P-33 and AIM-54 Phoenix have inferior maneuverability and, in addition, significantly higher prices. This, however, does not mean that long-range air-to-air missiles will not find their niche.