A week before when India’s Homegrown LCA-Tejas fighter jet tested and cleared Israeli Python-5 fifth-generation close combat air-to-air missile for operational use in combat, Chinese JF-17 Block-III was sported flying with Chinese PL-10 short-range, close combat air-to-air missile that still shares some lineage with the Israeli Python air to air missile family, thanks to the transfer of technology that happened in the ’80s between Israel and China in the supply of Python-3 that later became PL-8 in PLAAF.

PL-8 was Python-3 that was license-produced locally in China that was termed as 3.5Gen close combat air-to-air missile that found its way into PL-9 that was a successor to the PL-8 but carried much of the Israeli technology including its using the same airframe, rocket motor, proximity fuze, and warhead but had better having a higher off-boresight capability of 40 degrees that was much better than 30 degrees off-boresight capability found in Python-3/PL-8 and had higher High resistance to countermeasures. PL-8 and PL-9 are still seen on PLAAF fighter jets confirming that they still are operational.

For Successor of PL-9, the Chinese went for a completely new design of PL-10 but still carried much of the time tested systems from the PL-8 with locally made upgrades that included a 90 degrees off-boresight capability that surpassed R-73s 45 degrees and R-74s 75 degrees off-boresight capability found in Russian equivalent close combat air to air missiles. PL-10 was specifically designed for Chinese J-20 Stealth fighter jets and the missile seeker can be slaved to a helmet-mounted display (HMD) thus allowing the pilot to turn his head towards the target to lock on.

Python-5 is called a 5th generation even though it still carries operationally proven Python-4 components like Python-4’s unique aerodynamic airframe, INS, powerful rocket motor, warhead, and proximity fuze, but what’s changed is the addition of a Fifth-generation imaging seeker with the extremely high off-boresight capability. Israeli won’t confirm it but it has 100+ degrees off-boresight capability and a Full sphere launch envelope from very short to beyond visual ranges.

LCA-Tejas in addition to Python-5 will be getting an ASRAAM (Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missile) as its backup Close Combat air to air missile that also has 90 degrees off-boresight capability. India is also working on the development of a medium-range, infrared-homing air-to-air missile (AAM) based on Astra Mk1 airframe with TVC vanes that also includes a 90 degrees off-boresight capability.

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Article by SATYAJEET KUMAR ,  cannot be republished Partially or Full without consent from Writer or