Recent Air-to-Air missile (AAM) technological advancements in China, rapidly elevating it as a near peer competitor to the Western and Russian AAM development philosophies, has unlocked a new race to own the longest reach in the skies.

How China is taking the Air-to-Air missile lead in the East

A J-10A armed with PL-12 AAMs
SD-10A/B is the export version of the PL-12 AAM
the PL-10E on a static display
A J-20 with its PL-10 AAM showing outside the intake root weapons bay
The PL-15 is the most advanced BVR missile in service with the PLAAF/PLAN
A flight of J-16s armed with PL-15s and PL-10s
A J-10C armed with PL-15 and PL-10 AAM
The J-20 can carry 4 x PL-15 and 2 x PL-10 in internal weapons carriage bays
The PL-XX VLRAAM on the testbed J-16 carrier
Ramjet technology for AAMs is actively being persued in China

A resurgent Russia bounces back

A R-77 on static display
A RuAF Su-30M launching a R-77 AAM under flight test conditions
A Su-35 intercepting a USAF, seen armed with the R-77–1 and a R-27ET
The AESA seeker for the R-77M
The R-37 missiles on a MiG-31 belly
The static model of the R-37M
A Su-35 test fires a R-37M
The R-77–1 (bottom), the R-74 (centre) and the unknown Russian AAM at the Vympel factory
A Su-57 armed with R77–1 and the R74 missiles

The West’s Consistent Technology Push

The MBDA Meteor with a Luftwaffer Eurofighter Typhoon
A Meteor launch from a Dassault Rafale
A Meteor shot taken during the endgame manoeuvre
An AIM-120D fired by a F-15 Eagle
The AIM-120 is the most advanced AAM in USAF service
A F-22 launching a AIM-120D
A depiction of the F-22 launching a LREW
This snap shows the internal carriage capability and weapon layout on a F-22 Raptor
The AIM-9X on a F-15 carrier
A F-35 launching the MBDA ASRAAM AAM
A depiction of launch of the Raytheon Peregrine from a F-22 Raptor

Rest of the World

The prototype of the Japanese AAM-4B equipped with a AESA RF seeker
The Astra BVR being flight tested from a Su-30MKI

Domination of Skies in the 2020s

The Boeing Loyal Wingman will carry out its first flight in 2020
UK’s Tempest fighter, is being designed to have an optionally manned capability

East vs West: Are the Chinese Air-to-Air missiles worth the hype?

The J-20 will benefit from the Chinese AAM developments in the coming decade