While the recent brawls between India and China indicate a shift by New Delhi from a Pakistan-centric strategy to more China-centric, Islamabad considers New Delhi as its sworn enemy and the possible future conflict with India is termed “inevitable”.
The 2019 Balakot Airstrikes and following events marked a historic shootout, where an Indian Air Force’s MiG-21 “Bison” was shot down by a Pakistani Air Force F-16 using an unspecified air-to-air missile (predictably an AMRAAM).
IAF also claimed that a similar PAF F-16 net was downed by the same MiG-21 using R-73 air-to-air missile before crashing, without providing substantial evidence.
While the alleged downing of the F-16 and MiG-21 Bison remained in the headlines, one more remarkable capability was shown by the Su-30MKIs operated by the Indian Air Force. According to reports, the IAF Su-30MKIs managed to dodge a volley of AIM-120 AMRAAMs fired at them by PAF F-16s, using its supermaneuverable abilities and countermeasures.
However, this does not make the Russian-origin jets in service with the IAF as invincible to attacks from its counterpart. The AMRAAMs have been used to successfully down 14 jets, approximately all of them Soviet-designed. The list also includes six MiG-29s, a plane whose upgraded variant is used extensively by the Indian Air Force.
According to the Pakistani veteran general Kizer Tufar who has a wide experience in piloting the F-16 fighter aircraft, the combination of AMRAAM missiles and F-16 jets gives PAF an edge over the Indians.
“India in Jammu and Kashmir used Su-30MKI aircraft and very old aircraft, our Air Force used F-16s. Since the Su-30MKI did not have a data transmission channel for the safe exchange of information with the MiG-21, its radar could not help in the confrontation with the Pakistani Air Force fighters.
A Pakistani F-16 fighter fired an AIM-120 AMRAAM air-to-air missile during the conflict and shot down a MiG-21 in one fell swoop,” he said, in a particular fashioned way common to Pakistani experts.
Talking about the superiority of western equipment compared to the Russian fighters, the Pakistan Air Force pilot said that the IAF planes lack BVR capability, a problem well-known to Indians.
“The Su-30MKI and MiG-29 fighters, which are in service with the Indian Air Force, certainly have high maneuverability. But this helps them only in battle in line of sight.”
“I cannot make an unambiguous conclusion about all the shortcomings of the Su-30MKI fighter’s weapons control, but one thing is clear to me: these aircraft cannot be compared with the combination used by the Pakistani Air Force: F-16 and AIM-120 missiles. The Indian Air Force is aware of these restrictions, so they decided to place an order to buy the Rafale from France,” he stated.