02 Desember 2010
SD-10/PL-12 is a BVR AAM, with max speed mach 4, can reach target 100km (photo : pakforum)
China's SD-10 beyond visual range air-to-air missile (AAM) may be a considerably more capable weapon than has hitherto been believed. Officials from the SD-10's manufacturer, the Luoyang Electro-Optical Technology Development Centre (LOEC), say the SD-10 was designed from the beginning to function with a dual-mode seeker operating in distinct active and passive radar homing modes. If so, the SD-10 (and current production SD-10A) are the first AAMs to enter service with this acknowledged capability.
In lengthy discussions with LOEC at the Airshow China 2010 in Zhuhai between 16-21 November, the operating modes of the SD-10 were described to Jane's in detail. The missile has an active-radar terminal homing capability which has been public knowledge since the first details of the SD-10 were officially released in the middle of the last decade.
What has remained unspoken until now is the missile's claimed ability to home in on radar or electronic warfare emissions from the target aircraft, without support from the launch aircraft or use of the missile's own active seeker modes.
A LOEC official told Jane's that the passive mode was not intended to be the missile's primary targeting method - and cited the risks to friendly aircraft when relying on passive guidance mode alone. It is not clear if the SD-10's seeker can continuously alternate between active and passive modes in flight, or if it makes a less sophisticated 'one time' switch.