The recent induction of Rafale in IAF has spiked debates over different armaments in Pakistan and India, netizens on both side of the border are boasting of the abilities of their respective Air Forces. One such debate is about Meteor and PL-15 Beyond Visual Range Air to Air missiles.
BVRMs are very crucial and decisive weapon in any modern-day air combat, it is due to fact that they provide long ranges while staying at a safe range and disabling the enemy’s bad designs. Moreover, the factor of economy is also there with a good ratio of kill probability that BVRMs provide. To be more precise, a two million-dollar (avg. BVRM price) missile is all set to finish a $30-200 million dollar worth of a fighter.
Now let us come towards PL-15 vs Meteor BVR Missiles.
Meteor: Meteor is an actively guided BVRAAM, developed by MBDA which is a joint venture of six European countries including UK, France, Italy, Spain, Germany, and Sweden. It is 3.6m long in length and has a speed of Mach 4. It has a two-way data link and an onboard Terminal Phase AESA seeker which is very reluctant to Electronic Attack. It has a realistic max range of 200 KM.
PL-15: PL-15 as known as PI-LI is an Active Radar Homing (ARH) BVR missile developed and manufactured by 606th Institute. Pl-15 has enormous size of 4m+, a high-end jam resistant terminal phase AESA seeker, two-way Data-link and IIR seeker as well. It is said to have range between 200-250 Km.
To compare two State of the art BVR Missiles few imperative but very crucial factors are being discussed to deduce a precise verdict. These are:
1: Propulsion System
2: Guidance and Control Section
1) Propulsion System
PL-15: PL-15 uses conventional dual pulse solid fuel rocket motor. Such Propulsion systems once ignited does not stop and keep on kindling in single blow. Almost all advanced air-to-air missiles have such system. Pl-15’s huge body size enables it to store supplementary fuel and hence additional motor burn-out time, which not only helps in achieving more range but also more energy and speed.
Meteor: Meteor unlike conventional propulsion systems is propelled by Solid Fuel Ducted Ram Jet (SFDR) booster motor which gives it an edge over PL-15. Conventional rocket-powered missiles like AIM-120, PL-15 etc. have to carry both fuel and oxidizer while in contrast ramjet missiles are air-breathing, so they don’t need to carry the oxidizer, which means the same amount of fuel gives them significantly longer range. Plus, the other constituents of air that get pulled along and heated in the engine add to the available reaction mass, further increasing the propulsive efficiency.
2) Guidance and Control Section
Meteor: Meteor employs sophisticated in-flight computer which in conjunction with the AI radar data help the missile to maneuver in reaction to enemy aircraft’s changing position. Meteor during its flight towards target constantly share its status of fuel, intercept trajectory etc. to mothership. It also has high end X-Band AESA sensor which activates in terminal phase. Proximity fuse further ensures more lethality.
PL-15: PL-15 like meteor has very good guidance and Control Section. Two-way Data-link like Meteor makes PL-15 lethal and can prioritize another target mid-course. It also features terminal phase AESA seeker to acquire and lock target in terminal phase. PL-15’s has additional IR seeker which further increases its KP (Kill Probability).
Meteor: Range of Meteor is in between 150-200 Km. In case of BVRs greater the range lesser is the kill probability, but owing to ramjet propulsion, Meteor has high kinetic energy upon impact. Due to this very reason Meteor has one of the best the best No Escape Zone.
PL-15: Range of PL-15 is somewhere between 200 to 250 Km. The size of PL-15 is quite large in comparison with Meteor and AMRAAMs and this difference suggest that PL-15 has the longer stick. Undoubtedly, PL-15 is a very potent missile so much so that Gen. Herbert Carlisle, the head of the USAF’s Air Combat Command has to say “Look at our adversaries and what they’re developing, things like the PL-15 and the range of that weapon”.
After talking about the parameters and potentials of both missiles PL-15 emerges to have slight advantages over Meteor in some domains while Meteor has the Ramjet motor up its sleeves. In our honest opinion both missiles are neck to neck with each other, still nothing can be said with precision yet. It is only time that will tell.
Read Article:Exclusive on Dassault Rafale, F-16 Fighting Falcon, JF-17 Thunder Block-3 & Way Forward For PAF: https://pakstrategic.com/2020/07/29/exclusive-on-dassault-rafale-f-16-fighting-falcon-jf-17-thunder-block-3-way-forward-for-paf/