Air combat in Kashmir

The results of the collision between the fighters of the Air Force of India and Pakistan are rather ambiguous and can not be accurately counted. Much in air combat on February 27 is covered with darkness and uncertainty thanks to the desire of the sides of the collision to put themselves in the best light. Perhaps it can be said unequivocally that the Indian MiG-21 was shot down after all. And that only because Pakistan was shown the pilot of this plane. But there are some nuances here too, because the Indian MiG-21 is not exactly the aircraft that is now hotly debated by the world media.


The situation with the destruction of the Pakistani F-16 by Indian Su-30MKI (according to other sources – the MiG-21) seems vague, not only because Pakistan categorically denies the loss. India is not able to show the wreckage of the aircraft, as it fell on the territory of the enemy. Yes, and there is no pilot any longer – the Pakistanis killed him by mistake, mistaking for the Indian pilot. This was reported yesterday by a number of media outlets, claiming that it was the commander of the wing of the 19th squadron of the Pakistan Air Force, Shahzaz Ud Din.


It is clear that many doubt the truth of such information.


But in the USA they are sure: “some kind of Russian fighter” could not even cause minimal damage to the “first-class combat aircraft” F-16. What is all this brazen fake.


  • The F-16 has high maneuverability, carries a lot of weapons and is able to leave only burning scrap metal from the Su-30. Yes, the F-16 can be destroyed, but not being in the attack. The long-range weapons of the F-16 would not have left the slightest chance for the Su-30MK.” This kind of replicas literally exploded American forums dedicated to military topics. And this kind of revelation is abundantly quoted by the American media.


Holy faith in the invincibility of their own weapons – a terrible force. Similarly, in 1999, the States could not believe that the Serbs had shot down an invisible F-117 with a rocket of the most sophisticated S-200 air defense missile system. Even after presenting material evidence to them, they stubbornly asserted that this could not be.


Here, in terms of the generations of these two aircraft, the situation is the opposite.


Lightweight multi-purpose fighter General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon made its first flight in 1974. After 4 years, began to enter the US Air Force. Since then, 4,600 fighter jets of various modifications have been built. It is believed that this is the fourth-generation mass fighter. However, this is not quite the case. By the fourth generation, he began to relate only after the modifications appeared F-16C / D. That is, in the early 90s.


The essence of the successive upgrades was to install a new engine, which made it possible to increase the payload. Also updated BRW, including radar, sighting equipment, introduced optical-radar station, integrated more modern missiles. And the airframe was covered with a radio-absorbing film, due to which it was possible to increase stealth. Glider remained unchanged. Is that strengthened the landing gear due to the fact that the machine is heavier.


However, not all modernization measures have spread to Pakistani cars. They are not reduced visibility, saved the old radar without AFAR.


It is also necessary to say that the F-16 in its current state is a fighter “for the natives.” It is actively produced both in the USA and under licenses, but all airplanes are supplied to the external market. True, a variant of the development of the newest fighter with the letter V is drawn. But this is not because this aircraft is very good and not subject to obsolescence, but as a “straw”, which they intend to spread in case the F-35 will be ineffective in the machines. The same thing happens in carrier-based aviation, where they intend to extend the service life and significantly improve the performance of the F / A-18.


Su-30MKI was already “born” as a fourth-generation aircraft. Su-30MKI was already “born” as a fourth-generation aircraft. More precisely – 4 ++. The fighter is supermaneuverable due to the thrust vector rejected in two projections. “American” is not even close here. Due to the fact that the aircraft belongs to the class of heavy fighters, it is not only capable of taking a large rocket-bomb load, but also has more solid avionics. Thus, it is extremely difficult to hit a rocket due to the use of the Khibiny electronic warfare complex, which affects both the missile seeker’s GOS and the enemy’s radar signal. If we talk about the F-16, then it is equipped only with the recoverable heat traps. So the missile defense of the “American” is not up to par. It has also been reduced due to the low maneuverability relative to “Drying”. And it can play a fatal role in conditions when the dynamic qualities of air-to-air missiles are constantly increasing.


So despite the constant updating of the electronic “stuffing”, the F-16 was stuck in its flight qualities in the distant 70s. This, for example, can be clearly seen from the significant difference in wing loading with a maximum take-off weight: 532 kg / sq. at the Su-30 against 781 kg / sq.m. And this is with a huge difference in the maximum take-off mass of these aircraft: 38,800 kg versus 21,772 kg for the F-16. What kind of “excellent maneuverability” can we talk about?


The designers of the Su-30 chose the concept of “demonstrating the enemy forces”. That is, the fighter used a powerful radar N011M “Bars” with PFAR, which, “do not hesitate”, pretty much create noise in the surrounding space. Thus, the range of detection of targets, including barely noticeable, and resolution, that is, the ability to see “details”, is significantly increased. Another undoubted advantage of it is the ability to work equally with air and ground targets. Yes, the fighter is not bad seen on enemy radars, but try to hit it. What we have already said in connection with the powerful on-board EW facilities.


Huge importance in the outcome of the air duel is played by air-to-air missiles. Pakistanis claim that they hit the MiG-21 with an AIM-120 medium-range missile. Apparently, this is at best AIM-120C-7. They cannot have the latest AIM-120D modification due to the rapid cooling of relations with the country producing the missiles. Its range reaches 120 km. The maximum flight speed is 4 M. At the first stage of the flight, the rocket is aimed at the target using an inertial control system.


At the final stage, the active radar homing is activated. The pilot of the Su-30MKI is able to divert the missile to the side, as mentioned above, using the EW complex. There are two more techniques. Traditionally, to make anti-missile maneuver, using the super-maneuverability of the aircraft. You can also try to hit the AIM-120 “response fire”, that is, intercept it with a short-range missile R-73. Which is quite realistic, given the greater than the AIM-120 overload capacity.


Can the Su-30MKI bring down the F-16? In close combat it is guaranteed, with which American experts are forced to agree. For a fight at an average distance there is a rocket R-77. Moreover, there are several modifications of it, differing mainly in the method of aiming at the target. Its range is 110 km. The maximum flight speed is 4.5 M. The speed of the targets hit is up to 3,500 km, the F-16 is one and a half times less.


The R-77 can have either active-passive radar GPS or heat. As mentioned above, the thermal F-16 can be repulsed with the help of an automatic machine for ejecting false thermal targets. However, he has no resistance against active radar seeker systems. If, however, the radar homing system is placed on interference, then the rocket can switch to passive mode and head towards the source of interference. As for the antimissile maneuver, with the flight characteristics of the “American” is a very difficult task.


Much more successful may be intercepting the R-77 using the AIM-9 Sidewinder melee rocket. But here everything is quite ambiguous. Pakistan does not have a modern AIM-9X modification with a matrix thermal seeker and a deflected nozzle. And Pakistanis are forced to be content with a much more primitive AIM-9P – a budget option for poorer countries.


However, this is all theory. The value of these aircraft in battle is best proved by practice. And she is. During the joint Indo-American exercises Cope India-2005, the Su-30MKI conducted both single and group training battles with the F-16, which were piloted by American pilots. Moreover, the Americans had a huge advantage due to the fact that their fighters supported the AWACS aircraft.

Most fights were won by Russian fighters.


In 2008, success was repeated during exercises in the United States, where the Su-30MKI group reached “from India” on their own. At the same time, victories were won not only over the F-16, but also over the heavy F-15 fighters, more equipped with both onboard complexes and missile weapons. Subsequently, the US Air Force command categorically refused to train air fights with this Russian fighter.


Well, in the end of February the end of the dispute about what a fighter was worth. However, in the United States are not able to believe it.


And finally, a few words about the MiG-21, which shot down Pakistan. Some claim that the MiG-21 in that battle itself shot down the F-16. If we were talking about the aircraft, which began operating in the USSR Air Force in 1959, then it would be unscientific fantasy. However, the Indian Air Force is in service with the MiG-21−93, which was upgraded in 1993. It is equipped with an absolutely new BRWO, including the Kopye (Spear) radar. The matter has reached the point that even a helmet-mounted indication of the position of targets has been introduced. Installed displays. Replaced weapon control system. The aircraft received several modern missiles that are used on aircraft of the generation from 4 to 4 ++. In particular, the above-described medium-range missile R-77 appeared.


So that means that the MiG-21−93 could well bring down the Pakistani F-16.