Updated 11:29 AM EDT, Tue, Jun 16, 2020

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China Goes on Propaganda Offensive Promoting its Very Long Range Air-to-Air Missile

World beater?

(Photo : PLAAF) VLRAAM on a J-16 during tests.

Chinese propaganda has again resurrected the myth China's testing and might soon have combat ready a very long range air-to-air missile (VLRAAM) that can blast any United States warplane out of the sky from 300 kilometers away.

In November 2016, Chinese state-run media first revealed the existence of VLRAAM, which it claims is the world's longest range air-to-air missile.

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It said then that the rocket engine-powered VLRAAM has a speed of Mach 6 (7,400 km/h). VLRAAM is also said to have advanced features such as an Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar that locks onto a target; an infrared/electro-optical seeker and satellite navigation midcourse correction.

VLRAAM is designed to destroy strategically important but unarmed aerial tankers and airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft flown by the U.S. Air Force and Navy. It's not meant to shoot down stealth fighters such as the Northrop Grumman F-35 Lightning II flown by the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps.

News stories and photos released by state-run media showed one of these VLRAAMs mounted beneath each wing of a Shenyang J-16 fourth generation, multirole fighter bomber during tests. Chinese sources said the missile is incompatible with China's new stealth fighters, the Chengdu J-20 and the Shenyang J-31 because it can't fit into their weapon bays.

This disadvantage means the easily detectible J-16 can easily be engaged at long range by U.S. fighters such as the F-35 or the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornets flown-off Navy aircraft carriers. The two-seat J-16 has a round trip range of 3,900 km.

Chinese state-controlled media revealed VLRAAM is over six meters long. This compares to the 3.6 meter length for the Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) currently in use by the United States military.

The longest range air-to-air missile in service with the U.S. military is the AIM-120D AMRAAM with a range in excess of 160 km.

The new Chinese propaganda offensive launched yesterday on websites of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) repeated the same claims and added more claims. The PLA released some of the same images of the missile it issued in 2016 while adding a few more.

It again said VLRAAM is being tested in combat drills. It cited a researcher at the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) who believes China has developed "a new missile to destroy high-value targets such as early-warning planes and aerial refueling aircraft, which stay far from conflict zones."

He also said all air-to-air missiles in the world are unsuitable for combating early-warning planes because of the short range of these missiles. He said the best solution to this problem is to send a super-maneuverable fighter jet with very-long-range missiles to destroy those high-value targets, which are the eyes of the enemy.

Another Chinese pundit claims VLRAAM has a range of 400 km.

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