Can India Control Pakistani Airspace With S-400s Missiles, Rafale Jets?

With India adding Rafale jets in its military arsenal and lethal S-400 missile defence system on its way, former Indian Air Force Chief stated that the purpose of the both of them is to “hit Pakistani aircraft inside Pakistani air space and not when they come inside Indian territory.” 

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“Rafale jets along with S-400 missile defence systems will give the Indian Air Force (IAF) a major combat edge in the entire region and that India’s adversaries will think twice before starting a war with it,” said the former Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal (retd) BS Dhanoa.

India added five of the total 36 French origin aircraft contracted very recently. The five Rafale aircraft made a touchdown at the IAF’s Ambala airbase covering a distance of nearly 7,000 km from France.

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“Pakistan would not have responded on February 27 last year to the Balakot air strikes if India had the French-manufactured jets then,” Dhanoa said in reference to the retaliation effort carried out by Pakistani Air Force (PAF), a day after the Balakot strike.

Pakistan tried to target military installations but it was repulsed. However, the PAF managed to down a MiG-21 Bison in aerial combat besides capturing IAF pilot Abhinandan Varthaman, who was handed over to India on March 1, 2019.

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As reported earlier by EurAsian Times, the Dassault Rafale is a French twin-engine, canard-delta wing, multirole fighter aircraft equipped with a wide range of weapons, the Rafale is intended to perform air supremacy, interdiction, aerial reconnaissance, ground support, in-depth strike, anti-ship strike and nuclear deterrence missions.

India was keen on rapid deployment of Rafale jets due to rising border tensions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), following a violent clash broke out between the Indian and the Chinese troops in the Galwan valley of eastern Ladakh.

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According to the former IAF chief, Rafales will play the key role in Tibet as it will be able to use Tibetan terrain to its advantage, destroy enemy air defence and incapacitate the surface-to-air missiles.

“Against China, there are big Himalayan mountains in between us which create a serious line of sight issues. You can put a missile with a range of 300-400 km on the ground in Tibet or in India. But it will only work within the line of sight,” he said.

“Rafale has got a fantastic Electronic Warfare (EW) suite (SPECTRA), fantastic weapons and therefore are capable of protecting themselves electronically besides being able to use the terrain to their advantage,” he added.

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In 2018, despite Washington’s pressure and the threat of sanctions, New Delhi went ahead and signed the deal to acquire the deadly S-400 missile system from Russia. The S-400 is comparable to the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense System (THAAD) of the US but most of the experts rank it as the best defence systems in the world.

The Almaz-Entente Group, which manufactures the S-400, says that the maximum range of 40N6E is 400 kilometers and it can distinguish its target at a height of 30 kilometers. Many experts have echoed Dhanoa’s statements that S-400s will allow India to hit Pakistan’s aircraft in their own airspace.

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“With the induction of Rafale jets and S-400s, the technological asymmetry will once again be restored in our favour. Even if there is going to be a paradigm shift in the way they are going to fight the next war, there is a need to have a technological superiority so that our deterrence remains effective and we can maintain the peace,” emphasised Dhanoa, earlier this year speaking at fifth Flying Officer Nirmal Jeet Singh Sekhon PVC annual memorial lecture.