How Effective Would IAF’s Latest Fighter Jet Be in a Two-Front War
Military aviation experts say Rafale’s addition to India’s fighter fleet would significantly enhance the Air Force’s overall operational capability to counter the Chinese threat, and it would also provide effective deterrence against Pakistani aggression.
Rafale’s induction will change the technological imbalance India had in air vis-à-vis Pakistan’s US-supplied F16 aircrafts with superior radar and missile system as well as China-supplied Chengdu JF-17, which is at the centre of Pakistani Air Force’s fleet modernisation plans.
So how does Dassault-made Rafale fare against the China-made JF-17 fighter jets used by the Pakistan’s Air Force? And what would be the outcome of any encounter between Rafale and ‘stealth’ Chengdu J-20s that is used by the People’s Liberation Army Air Force.
The comparison becomes all the more important because IAF fighters are most likely to encounter these machines in the sky in case there is a full-blown confrontation.
Let us begin by comparing the basics first. Both Chinese JF-17 currently used by PAF and Chengdu J-20 used by China are multi-role combat fighter aircraft (MRCA) meaning aircraft intended to perform various day/night roles during combat. China claims JF-17 Thunder is a fourth-generation aircraft and the J-20 is a fifth-generation machine.
The task assigned to these aircraft could be multiple, including air-to-air attack, air-to-surface attack, aerial reconnaissance, interception, suppression of enemy air defence, anti-ship strikes and nuclear deterrence.
Dassault’s Rafale, due to its state-of-the-art technology, has been classified as a 4.5 generation aircraft. It is claimed to be an “omnirole” fighter, a tag that points to the aircraft’s abilities to “go beyond the needs of each type of mission’.