China Displays ‘Wild Weasel’ Fighter

 - August 14, 2017, 2:34 PM

A new photograph of the Chengdu J-10B combat aircraft in suppression of enemy air defenses (SEAD) configuration has appeared on the Chinese Internet. The canard-delta fighter was seen at the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) Open Day, held at Changchun airbase in northeast China.

The fighter was carrying a pair of PL-8 short-range air-to-air missile on Station 1 and 7; a pair of YJ-91 anti-radiation missiles on Station 2 and 6; and two 500-kg laser-guided training bombs on the inner wing pylons. On the left engine intake pylon was the K/RKL700A ECM pod and—of particular interest—a CM-802 AKG missile target designator was hung from the right intake pylon.

The CM-802 AKG missile target designator, as the name suggests, is the targeting system for the China Aerospace Science and Industry Group CM-802 AKG air-to-surface missile, which uses a passive infrared-homing seeker with datalink input. Although not confirmed, the target designator could be paired with the YJ-91 missile, and many Chinese observers likened this configuration to the American F-16CJ Wild Weasel and the AGM-88 HARM missile.

Developed from the Russian Kh-31P anti-surface missile acquired around 2004, the Chinese YJ (Ying Ji, or Eagle Strike)-91 missile possesses numerous improvements to meet Chinese operational requirements. A key modification is the single passive seeker that can pick up radar signatures from 2-18 GHz and has increased range of 120 km at more than Mach 3. Chinese literature claims that the anti-radiation variant is able to engage most Western surface-to-air systems and even airborne early warning aircraft.

The Chinese have also developed an anti-ship variant of the YJ-91, which has a terminal sea-skimming altitude from 7 to 1.2 meters, depending on sea conditions. However, range is limited to 50 km.

The J-10B and J-10C have been previously seen carrying the YJ-91, but this is a rare appearance with both targeting and jamming pods loaded. However, due to the heavy total payload, many believe that this configuration is used only for display purposes rather than operational loadouts.