The Luoyang Electro-Optical Research Institute (LEOC) has largely competed development of its fifth-generation PL-10 short-range air-to-air missile (AAM), according to comments by the missile's designer on a Chinese TV show broadcast in late August.
The PL-10 AAM was first seen on websites in 2013 being carried on a retractable/covered pylon on the Chengdu Aircraft Corporation (CAC) J-20 fifth-generation fighter. More recently it has been seen on the wingtip pylon of the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation J-11 fighter.
The TV report featured an interview with the PL-10's chief designer, Liang Xiaogeng. According to Mark Stokes of the Project 2049 research institute, Liang also served as the deputy chief designer of LEOC's PL-9C infrared/helmet-sighted AAM and as chief designer of the PL-12 self-guided medium-range AAM.
The report was unusual in that it provided significant historic and performance data about a new weapon before its unveiling at a major arms show or exhibition. For example, the report noted that the PL-10 weighs 89 kg, has a length of 3 m, and a range of 20 km. It has been in development for seven years, a prototype was completed in 2013, and since then has been test-fired 30 times.
The report also noted that the PL-10 has "world class" capabilities that include a "multi-element imaging infrared seeker with anti-jamming capabilities" and indicated that it is capable of high off-boresight attacks and has super manoeuvrability.
Images from 2013 and more recently confirm that the PL-10 uses thrust vectoring vanes in its motor exhaust. These, plus unique large aft fins with a slight forward sweep, likely confer super manoeuvrability.
Like comparable AAMs, the PL-10 probably also uses a new helmet-mounted display (HMD) sighting system.
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