China’s developing a hypersonic weapon that has triple the range of existing Chinese air-to-air missiles. The premise: a ramjet engine that can turn already deadly missiles into weapons that have greater range, maneuverability, and speed.
In a May 31 report, the Science and Technology Daily announced that the 4th Research Institute of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) has twice successfully tested a ramjet engine aimed to power air-to-air missiles.
Song said the ramjet engine could more than triple the range of Chinese BVRAAMs. The PL-12’s range, for example, could increase from 62 miles to over nearly 200 miles. If so, this would be a key factor in any future conflicts, as CASC ramjet engine would be both faster and longer-ranged than most BVRAAM (beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile) rocket engines like the AIM-120 AMRAAN and PL-12, which have a top speed of about Mach 4.
Long range missiles would be a threat to US AWACS and refueling tankers.
AWACS and refueling are critical parts of the US air force. No refueling means half the combat range and no AWACS means targeting is crippled.
Long-range threat even to stealth fighters and bombers.