PL-5B is a domestic heat-seeker AAM developed in PRC by Institute 612, Ministry of Aviation Industry (now Luoyang Electro-optics Technology Development Centre). A vast improvement over the previous model, the PL-2, with higher tracking rate and overload.
Vehicles equipped with this weapon
- Length: 3.128 m
- Maximum overload: 20G
- Launch overload limit: 4G
- Lock distance from rear-aspect:5.5 km
- Max range: 18 km
- Warhead: 4.76kg HBX, equivalent to 7.62 kg TNT
The warhead of PL-5B was filled with 4.76 kg of HBX, equivalent to 7.62 kg of TNT and comes with proximity fuse that helps to blast enemy aircraft into pieces.
Comparison with analogues
At the same tier, the AIM-9J and the AIM-9P are very common and the PL-5B in many ways is similar to them in terms of explosive mass and overload, while it also suffers the problem of launch overload limiter. The Matra Magic R.550 is in many ways better than the PL-5B but in the right hands, they can be equally lethal.
Usage in battles
The best way to use the PL-5B is do not trigger-happy on these missiles, 20G overload a 8 kg TNT equivalent explosive mass and do seem wonderful at first glance. But this missile comes with drawbacks: its rather heavy overall mass of the missile itself as well as a launch overload limit at 4G. So pick up targets who is a least 1.5 km apart and those that might not pay attention to their tail, with some distance this missile can do it jobs well on hitting its targets. Very likely your target will not ever have the luxury to do a emergency landing at base, either they has been shattered by the missile or they barely gain control to the aircraft.
Pros and cons
- Higher explosive mass among the same tier IR AAMs that can make short work of enemies
- Sufficient 20G overload
- Sufficient top speed
- 4G launch overload limit that could be troublesome
- Somewhat less agile due to the overall high mass
The PL-5B started its development during the 1970s in parallel with its "brother", the PL-5A SARM when Mainland China was in their crisis (the Cultural Revolution). While it had already done aerial simulation tests in September of 1972, it came into service in 1986 while the PL-5A had been cancelled 3 years prior due to outdated technology.
After 2 decades of development and the technologies learnt from foreign IR AAMs, CATIC introduced the latest export-intended version of this missile- PL-5EII, with a brand new multi-band tracker and able to lock from front-aspect, enhancing this missile to a new level.
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