HomeGlobal Defence UpdatesPakistani J-10CE Fleet's Air-to-Air Superiority over Indian Air Force Questioned: Insights from...

Pakistani J-10CE Fleet’s Air-to-Air Superiority over Indian Air Force Questioned: Insights from Confidential US Air Force Report

Source : IgMp Bureau

pl 15E
Chinese PL-15 Very Long Beyond Visual Range Air to Air Missile, supplied to Pakistan along with J-10CE fleet

The Pakistani J-10CE fleet, armed with China’s PL-15E missiles, may not hold the air-to-air superiority it claims over the Indian Air Force, reveals a confidential report from the US Air Force.

Leaked internal reports from the USAF cast doubts on the true capabilities of China’s PL-15 Very Long Range Air-to-Air Missile (BVRAAM). Despite China’s assertion of a 200-kilometer range, the USAF report suggests this may be exaggerated due to operational constraints.

The report reveals that the PL-15’s advertised range relies on specific launch parameters, including a fighter jet speed of Mach 1.2 at an altitude of 10 kilometers. However, in actual combat situations, these conditions may vary significantly.

J 10 C 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 1
Chinese J-10C Fighter jet spotted with PL-10, PL-12 and PL-15 air to air missiles

Taking into consideration practical launch limitations, the USAF estimates the effective range of the PL-15 against an adversary to be approximately 140 kilometers, a notable reduction from China’s claim.

The report suggests that similar limitations could apply to the PL-15E, the export variant supplied to Pakistan. With an advertised range of 145 kilometers, the real-world effectiveness could decrease by up to 30%, leaving the PL-15E with a practical range of around 105-110 kilometers.

This revelation challenges Pakistan’s assertion of achieving air-to-air parity with India’s Rafale fighter jets through the induction of the PL-15E missiles. The report highlights that Pakistan’s F-16s, equipped with AIM-120C AMRAAM missiles, already possess a comparable range to the PL-15E, even accounting for China’s claims.

India’s domestically developed Astra missiles, particularly the Astra Mk-II with a reported range of 130 kilometers, could potentially outmatch the PL-15E. Additionally, the Astra Mk-I, with a range similar to the AMRAAM AIM-120C variant, poses a formidable challenge to Pakistan’s air capabilities.

160km range Astra Mk-2 beyond visual range air to air missile during its maiden test from an Indian Air Force Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighter jet (File Photo)

Defence analyst Ranesh Rajan corroborates these findings, stating that the PL-15E’s dual-pulsed solid-propellant rocket design limits its range to around 110 kilometers. Recent reports on the Astra Mk-II reinforce this assessment, indicating a real-world range closer to 130 kilometers, rather than the exaggerated figures often touted in the media.

The revelations from the US Air Force report cast doubts on the claimed air-to-air superiority of the Pakistani J-10CE fleet equipped with the PL-15E missiles, emphasizing the need for a nuanced understanding of missile capabilities in assessing regional military dynamics.

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