Background The PLA-AF and PLA-N operate a diverse mix of indigenously manufactured and imported Russian Air to Air Missiles (AAM), carried by a no less diverse fleet of combat aircraft. While imported Russian R-27 / AA-10 Alamo, R-73 / AA-11 Archer and R-77 / AA-12 Adder AAMs are primarily used with the imported Russian built Su-27SK / J-11A and Su-30MKK/MK3 Flankers, indigenous Chinese built weapons are dominant across the Chinese built fleets of J-10A/S Sinocanard, J-11B Sino-Flanker, J-8 Finback, J-7 Fishbed, J-6 Farmer, A-5/Q-5 Fantan, and JH-7 Flying Leopard. China manufactures only two Beyond Visual Range (BVR) guided AAMs, the active radar guided PL-12/SD-10 “Sino-AMRAAM” and a reverse engineered semi-active radar guided Selenia Aspide Mk.1, designated the PL-11. A much more diverse inventory of heatseeking short range weapons exists. These include analogues or derivatives of a range of Western missiles, such as the AIM-9 family and Rafael Python 3 series, and uniquely Chinese developments such as the TY-90, designed for air combat between helicopters. Most Chinese built AAMs have been adapted for use as SAMs, either land based, naval, or both. Most are also being offered widely for export. In perspective, the unpalatable reality of this decade is that Australia's RAAF faces a genuine 'rainbow threat' environment across the wider region. The sheer diversity of missile types in service or being introduced, be they of US, Russian, EU, Israeli or Chinese origin, and the prospect of evolving regional clone variants and derivatives, presents a genuine long term problem in intelligence gathering, analysis and countermeasures library maintenance. Two key issues have arisen during this decade. The first is the large scale export of advanced variants of the Russian R-74, R-27 and R-77, arming MiG and Sukhoi fighters. These weapons are highly competitive against US and EU sourced AAMs operated by the RAAF, and can be expected to further evolve over time. With diverse mixes of seeker types in the BVR missiles, defending against them will present real challenges. A robust apporach will require investment in training, including simulation, tactics development, and adequate electronic and infrared countermeasures on RAAF aircraft. none of these considerations have been addressed to date in existing or planned RAAF aircraft. The second issue to arise is the future export of very long range 'AWACS killer' missiles, which are the poor man's equaliser against an opponent with an advantage in AEW&C capabilities. Much of the current force structure plan is predicated on the RAAF holding an assymetric advantage in AEW&C capability over any opponent, indefinitely. Missiles such as the R-172 and R-37 allow any Sukhoi operator to threaten an opposing AEW&C aircraft from a safe distance. There can be no doubt that a future RAAF force structure will have to be planned around missile capabilities now developing across the region, and compromises are simply not an option in the long term. PLA-AF and PLA-N AAMs LETRI “PL-13” “Sino-Meteor” In 2008 an image appeared on the Chinese internet showing a solid ramjet powered AAM evidently based on the existing PL-12 design. The status of this design is not clear. Conceptually it is closest to the MBDA Meteor AAM planned for the Royal Air Force. If such a missile is in development it would likely be similar in performance to the Meteor, which has exceptionally high endgame lethality due to the increased sustained G capability arising from persistent engine thrust, compared to conventional single and dual pulse rocket AAMs. MBDA Meteor (MBDA). LETRI SD-10/PL-12 “Sino-AMRAAM” China's indigenous equivalent to the AMRAAM is the PL-12/SD-10, claimed to use the seeker and other components from the Russian R-77 AMRAAM-ski. Credited with competitive performance against the AMRAAM, the PL-12 is expected to be deployed on the Su-27, Su-30, J-10 (image © 2009, Zhenguan Studio).