Rafale vs F-16: Can Indian Rafale Jets Overpower Pakistani F-16s In An Aerial Showdown?

The Rafale vs F-16 rivalry goes beyond the India- Pakistan comparison and actually strikes a competition between the US and French defence manufacturers. Can the US-made F-16 jets that Pakistan Air Force operates match the advanced Dassault Rafales Jets that Indian Air Force is set to procure?

Indian Rafale vs Pakistani F-16 Jets – Which one of the two fighter planes would you put your money on? India has procured the first batch of Rafale Jets from France while Pakistan Air Force is equipped with mighty US-origin F-16s.

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Both F-16 and Rafale Jets have never come face to face in any aerial combat (except for NATO drills) and with mounting tensions between India and Pakistan over Kashmir, you could soon witness a showdown between F-16 and Rafale Jets.

But the question remains, can the US-made F-16 jets that Pakistan Air Force operates match the advanced Dassault Rafales Jets that Indian Air Force is now operating?

The EurAsian Times analyses the strengths of both the fighter jets and evaluates which air-force – Indian or Pakistani will dominate the skies.

F-16 Fighting Falcon | Lockheed Martin
F-16 Fighting Falcon | Lockheed Martin

In the contemporary era of cold warfare, a country’s superiority is rated in terms of the fighter jets it operates. Most of the global powers in the modern era have nuclear options to win wars and to deliver that, they need the latest generation of fighter jets.

The Rafale vs F-16 rivalry goes beyond the India- Pakistan comparison and actually strikes a competition between the US and French defense manufacturers.

As EurAsian Times reported earlier, Pakistan is placing its fighter jets near the Ladakh border and if tensions continue to flare, an ariel showdown between the Indian and Pakistani Air Force is imminent. The only difference is that India is now equipped with much advanced Rafale jets.

Indian Rafale Jets vs F-16 of Pakistan Air Force

Rafale fighter jet is a twin-jet fighter aircraft manufactured by French-based Dassault Aviation. Rafales are able to operate from both, shore bases and aircraft carriers.

On the other hand, the US-based Lockheed Martin developed F-16s are fourth-generation, single-engine supersonic multirole fighter aircraft. As far as the F-16s are concerned, there are approximately 3,000 operational F-16s in service across 25 countries.

The Rafales have a wingspan of 10.90 meters while the F-16s have a wingspan of 9.96 meters. Taking about the length, the length of a Rafale aircraft is 15.30 meters while that of an F-16 is 15.06 meters. So, the two aircraft are almost similar when it comes to the dimension of length.

When it comes to weight, an empty Rafale weighs 10 tons while an empty F 16 weighs 9.2 tons. The maximum take-off weight a Rafale can carry is 24.5 tons while an F-16 can carry a maximum of 21.7 tons.

So, clearly in a dogfight between the two, the Rafales have a slight edge given the fact that they can load more weapons than the F-16s.

Strike Capabilities – Rafale vs F-16 Jets

When it comes to striking capabilities, the F-16s have a slight edge over the Rafales. While the F-16s have a range of 4220 kilometers, the Rafales have a range of 3700 kilometers only.

Dassault Rafale – Wikipedia

In terms of speed, Pakistani F-16s have a slight advantage over Indian Rafales. While the Rafale aircraft has a maximum speed of 2130 kilometers per hour, the F16s have a maximum speed of 2,414 kilometers per hour. Both aircraft, however, have an identical service ceiling of 50,000 feet.

Weapons: F-16 vs Rafale Jets

The Rafale comes equipped with the MICA air to air missiles, SCALP long-range missiles, laser-guided bombs, AM39 anti-ship missiles, GIAT 30 internal cannon, METEOR long-range air to air missiles and air to ground precision-guided weapons.

On the other hand, the F16s come armed with Penguin Anti-Ship missiles, cluster bombs, runway denial bombs, AIM-9 sidewinder short-range air to air missiles, AIM -120 medium-range air to air missiles, GPS guided monks and conventional drop bombs including Nuclear drop internal 20 mm Vulcan cannon.

So, both these state of art jets have their own strengths and edges over each other. To predict a clear winner is a hard task and pilot skills will play a crucial part to decide the winner.

However, one must also take into account that the Rafale Jets, which have been specifically customized as per the Indian requirements are considered as 4.5 generation fighter jets compared to the F-16s of Pakistan Air Force (categorized as 4th Generation Jets).

Rafales are nuclear-capable fighter jets and are believed to be equipped with semi-stealth technology which is clearly missing in the aging fleet of Pakistani F-16 jets.

What gives India a decisive advantage will be the deadly combination of SU-30 MKIs and Rafale Jets which not only overwhelm Pakistani F-16s in numbers but also in armory and radar.

Backed with soon-to-be procured S-400 missiles from Russia, Indian airspace would be near impregnable and become a no-fly zone for the Pakistani F-16 jets.

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