Indian Rafales Or US’ F-35s – Which Jet Is China Vying To Shoot-Down Via Its Deadly S-400 Missiles?

China is one of the first countries in the world, apart from the developers Russia and now Turkey, that can boast of having the deadly S-400 missile defence systems in its arsenal. As China’s conflict with India and Taiwan / US has intensified, the biggest mystery till date is where has Beijing deployed its S-400s?

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Some experts believe that the People’s Liberation Army might as well choose to deploy the S-400s in the 180-kilometre-wide Taiwan Strait, which separates Taiwan from mainland China, where they might see its greatest impact.

The S-400s which are capable of engaging up to 80 aircraft simultaneously, approximately one-third of Taiwan’s fighting fleet, might come very handy against Taipei’s F-16s and even have an ultimate showdown with the most advanced, stealth fighter jets – US-35s.

Another region where China could choose to deploy its S-400 missiles could be near the India-China border in Eastern Ladakh or somewhere across the Line of Actual Control (LAC), in a bid to counter the aerial threat of the Indian Air Force (IAF) especially the new Rafale jets.

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According to speculation by Indian media and one of India’s most famous commentators Major General GD Bakshi (Retired), the S-400s could have been deployed along the Line of Actual Control region. However, there has been no official confirmation and Eurasian Times could not independently verify these claims.

According to a tweet by Indian defence experts GD Bakshi which appears to be a speculation, the PLA has already deployed the S-400 surface-to-air missiles near the Line of Actual Control Area (LAC), the de-facto border between India and China.

Bakshi said – China (has) not got back an inch from its Galwan and Pangong Tso positions. It has brought in its 4th motor rifle division from Xinjiang. It has deployed ultra-modern Russian S-400 Missiles there.

According to the Pentagon, China has one of the world’s largest forces of advanced long-range surface-to-air systems—including Russian-built S-400s, S-300s, and domestically produced systems that constitute part of its robust and redundant integrated air defence system architecture.


Considered to be the most advanced of their kind in the world, the Russian-built S-400s are the most modern long and medium-range surface-to-air missile system, designed to detect and destroy aircraft and cruise and ballistic missiles, while also being able to demolish ground-based installations.

As things stand, the S-400s are a match for each and every fighter jet out there, including the fifth-generation F-35 Stealth jets and Indian Rafale jets.

However, Indian Air Force (IAF) has already foreseen the Chinese moves and has been readying itself for Beijing’s deployment of S-300s and S-400s in the Ladakh region since May, having pushed its air defence and radar systems along the LAC.

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A defence source while speaking to an Indian publication, The Print, said –  The IAF has war-gamed the scenario of operating amid Chinese air defence systems which includes the S 400, S 300, LY 80 and other systems. He claimed that the high altitude and the mountains work to the Indian advantage.

Moreover, with the newly acquired French Dassault Rafales which were recently inducted into IAF’s No. 17 Squadron, “Golden Arrows” are expected to deployed up in Ladakh if the situation goes out of control.

The 4.5 generation twin-engine, canard-delta wing, multirole fighter aircraft is equipped with a wide range of weapons and boasts the ability to perform air supremacy, interdiction, aerial reconnaissance, ground support, in-depth strike, anti-ship strike, and nuclear deterrence missions.

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However, despite the Rafales providing New Delhi with the ability to flex their muscles and showcase their enhanced military strength, the formidable S-400 has the ability to neutralise the fighters if it comes within its target range, which Indian jets will avoid.

Air Chief Marshal B. S Dhanoa, had earlier issued a warning when talking about the SAMs at the disposal of Beijing, stating, “Chinese Air Threat is mainly from their Surface to Air Missile Systems” which included the S-400s.

Moreover, according to military experts, the PLAGF (PLA Ground Force) has also deployed its HQ-9 long-range air defence systems along the LAC. According to satellite imagery, two new SAM sites have been pointed out in the Chumbi valley of Tibet, a place at the tri-junction of Indian, Bhutanese, and Tibetan border which lies at the eastern periphery of Sikkim, with the SAM batteries being placed 50 kilometres away from the region where the 2017 India-China skirmishes occurred.

According to analysts, the SAM facilities are strikingly similar to the ones built around the Mansarovar Lake. “Noted roughly 50 km from Naku La and Doka La passes, both surface-to-air missiles sites would close the existing air defense gap around the earlier clash zones.

India has been noted running regular intelligence surveillance & reconnaissance missions in this sector during these standoffs fielding a variety of assets including the Boeing P-8 [patrol aircraft]”

Despite the new findings, according to the research director for the U.S. Air Force’s China Aerospace Studies Institute, Rod Lee, the constructions are not that ‘new’ as claimed and had begun in 2019, meaning China has been preparing for a military stand-off with the Indian side long before their clash at the border.

It is suggested that China also has an eye out for the United States, having already seen bilateral ties with the nation deteriorate under the regime of President Donald Trump.

The US last month, blacklisted 24 Chinese companies and targeted individuals who according to the US were part of construction and military actions in the South China Sea, its first such sanctions over the disputed strategic waterway.

According to military experts, China, which had launched two missiles including an “aircraft-carrier killer” as a warning signal to the US forces in the South China Sea, where the two countries were holding separate military exercises, could deploy one of the S-400s in the region if things escalated further.

The Russian-origin defence systems can engage targets at a range of up to 400 kilometres, up to six times the speed of light, at heights of up to 30 kilometres and can also launch 40N6 missiles (long-range, hypersonic, Surface-to-Air Missiles) to engage low manoeuvrable aerodynamic targets.

Most importantly, the S-400s are said to be the only defence systems capable of taking on the ‘untraceable’ US-made F-35 stealth fighters. The most advanced F-35s are intricately designed to use stealth technology such as radar-absorbing paint, materials, and the angular lines of its fuselage, which enables them to reduce heat signatures and electromagnetic emissions to evade radar systems.

However, the Russians have designed the S-400s especially to counter stealth technology by identifying and tracking stealth aircraft and hypersonic targets, almost nullifying the F-35’s most renowned feature, thereby making the S-400s the most unforgiving piece of modern weaponry in a war-like situation.

In this situation, experts believe, that China would want to keep its S-400s near Taiwan and counter F-35, F-16 jets and use other surfaces to air missiles including HQ-9 long-range air defence systems to deter India.