PL-4 (missile)

Summary

The PL-4 (Chinese: 霹雳-4; pinyin: Pī Lì-4; lit. 'Thunderbolt-4') was an air-to-air missile (AAM) developed by the People's Republic of China. It was designed by the 612 Research Institute and the Zhuzhou Aeroengine factory. The first version, the PL-4A, was China's first semi-active radar homing (SARH) AAM. It was developed into the infrared homing PL-4B.[2]

PL-4
Typeair-to-air missile
Place of originChina
Service history
Used byChina
Specifications
Length3.2 m[1]

EngineRocket
Operational
range
18 km[1]
Maximum speed 2695 km/h[1]
Guidance
system
Semi-active radar homing (PL-4A)
Infrared homing (PL-4B)
Launch
platform
aerial

The development program started in March 1966. The design may have been influenced by American AIM-7D Sparrow wreckage from the Vietnam War.[2] Prototype ground-testing to the original 1960s requirements was completed in November 1980,[2] with the second phase of development starting in July 1981.[3] The program was cancelled in 1984 due to obsolescence and, with the normalization of relations with the United States - the availability of modern Western weapons.[2]

The PL-4 was intended to arm the Chengdu J-9 - which was cancelled in 1980 - and then the Shenyang J-8II. Issues with the J-8II's Type 208 radar limited SARH performance,[2] and the missile's cancellation severely affected the aircraft's development.[4]

VariantsEdit

PL-4A
SARH version
PL-4B
IRH version

ReferencesEdit

CitationsEdit

  1. ^ a b c Wood et al. (2020): page 41
  2. ^ a b c d e Wood et al. (2020): page 34
  3. ^ Wood et al. (2020): page 17
  4. ^ Wood et al. (2020): page 14

BibliographyEdit

  • Wood, Peter; Yang, David; Cliff, Roger (November 2020). Air-to-Air Missiles: Capabilities And Development In China (PDF). Montgomery: China Aerospace Studies Institute. ISBN 9798574996270.