Christopher Sidor wrote:Fair enough. The fact that they are going for J-20 and J-31 while they are in talks with Soviets for Su-35, i.e. Super Flanker tells us something. If Su-35 were so great and would be able to penetrate the air defenses of the Americans then PRC would not have been developing J-20 and J-31. Against Indian air defense systems, it is a different story.
Or they are developing these knowing they wont get the core tech on the Su-35. Remember, the Russians didn't transfer avionics or engine tech and even held back overhaul & maintenance assistance on the Sukhois! The PRC hence tried to reverse engineer the Su-27SK, which has been a mediocre attempt so far. And given their tendency to copy the Joneses -their latest attempt is on similar lines.
Simple fact of the matter is that if the PRC had 300 Su-35s, the US would be far more worried than against their 300 odd J-20/J-31 combo or whatever, since the US knows how capable the former are. Pair the above Su-35s with potent Kh-31/Kh-35/Moskit style missiles...and you have a very strong anti access force.
But these same planes can be used against Russia itself. Which is why only 48 Su-35s are on offer and no TOT.
PRC knows that they will need to have a very long range fighter-bomber able to take on US Marines and USN in Western Pacific along with Indian forces in the south. J-20 may or may not be used as a pure A2A fighter like F-22, but what it definitely will be used is to carry out deep interdiction over the enemy's territories or bases.
Nobody knows this, at this point everyone is speculating as to its role. What the J-20 is as of now, is a TD. Till yesterday the PRC dabbed some paint onto the nozzles and everyone was ooh-aah over a new Chinese engine. Now the fans reluctantly concede that its a standard AL-31 with paint. That is how the PRC has controlled media around this plane to build hype. But substance is a different matter.
Now, think of how much MTOW this large airframe has, the challenges faced by every program till date in sticking to the budgeted weight (pretty much all overshot by a significant margin) and the relatively older engines. So who knows exactly how this will perform? What of the avionics package? What of its internal weapons package?
Calling it an interdictor or an interceptor is to jump the gun. It will take a decade + to mature, and by then, the technologies available to India would have jumped manifold, including a range of radars and sensors operating across multiple bands.
In the Kargil war across the battle field various fighters of IAF and PAF had engaged in radar lock on each other. They were all operating over the BVR spectrum.
That just shows you completely ignored the circumstances of the Kargil War and know relatively less about it at this point of time.
First, PAF radar locking on IAF aircraft at BVR ranges or successfully doing so to achieve any operational impact, is pure propaganda. They had no BVR capability operational till they acquired the AMRAAM equipped F-16s.
At Kargil, only the IAF had a decisive BVR edge in terms of AA-10 and Super530D.
Next, so what if they radar locked the PAF planes, it could still have gone WVR, because the PAF planes could have evaded a missile or two, the seekers on the missiles could have lost lock, they could have malfunctioned and so forth!
And today, its much the same thing.
If you actually follow BVR tactics, the weakest link in BVR today is the RF missile & RF guidance. If they get jammed or spoofed, then your primary weapon is useless and you have to go to WVR. Even here, China does not yet have Imaging Infra Red AAMs like India has purchased with the Mica and is tendering for with the Jaguar & are planned for other aircraft upgrades. They too can get spoofed by flares. And again, if missiles malfunction or get spoofed - forget WVR, you are down to guns.
Ironically, in an era of unforeseen electronics expansion, guns remain the certain sure shot killer
Which is why the IAF continues to place a lot of emphasis not just on BVR but WVR and even guns!
The era of WVR is over and is coming to a close.
Hardly! WVR remains the most deadly arena and as a result of which, more advanced WVR missiles are being developed. WVR has been written off by futurists many times, only to bite everyone when it resurfaced. The other day, even the F-22 finally received AIM-9X capability.
And further you are assuming that PLAAFs J-20 and J-31 would be picked up and tracked. I am not so sanguine about that currently. Maybe by 2020 we might have the capability, but right now it is a big question mark.
How do you know its a big question mark? All you have are a couple of flying TDs and you are ascribing capabilities to them. Do they have operational RAM? What are their actual signatures? And proper all aspect values? What is their signature management? No theoretical papers please by Kopp & co about possible results assuming best in class methods currently available to far more mature aerospace industries. Second, its pretty logical to note that the PLAAF's fighters would be picked up and tracked as India is well on its way to fielding one of the world's most complex farms of multiband radars, from S Band (LLTR, LLLWR, AEW&CS, MPR) to LBand (Phalcon, Strategic Radars) and not just X Band, then there are ESM and CSM systems, all of which will be networked.
And 2020 is pretty ok even if India did not have these capabilities now (to a significant extent it does) since only by then will the J-20 end up getting into some sort of operational shape as an actual weapons platform.
I dont deny it. Rafale is a very capable Omni-role aircraft, something which IAF wanted. This is unlike EFT. But it is still not stealthy enough.
How do you know that its not stealthy enough? How do we know what a Rafale with its Spectra jamming, flying nap of the earth, can or cannot do? Stealth(y) strike can be achieved by many ways, the Rafale takes one other approach, of LO+ EW+ long range strike via missiles like SCALP.
And if PRC starts to deploy S-400 or its cloned equivalent in East Turkestan, Tibet and central China the task of Rafael gets tough if not impossible.
The S-400 is not sold to China yet, and even if it were, it remains vulnerable to LRCM strikes delivered by a low flying fighter.
The problem is that we do not need a fighter which can do everything a Mirage 2K, Mig-29 or Jaguar can do. What we need tomorrow is a highly networked-cum-integrated fighter (which Rafale is) along with a stealthy aircraft (which Rafale is not).
Again, more assumptions here. Where is this stealthy fighter that can replace the Rafale?
Its clearly not the JSF, because its side RCS is nothing great, and its internal carriage is pathetic at 4 odd missiles. Furthermore, if external stores are kept, there goes the frontal RCS as well. Further, no internal jammer is fitted to aid the RCS reduction. And nor are JSFs available to India in plenty, soon and with TOT (the IAF insists on local sourcing of spares as much as possible).
So basically, this argument is a non starter. In 2022, the IAF will get its own stealthy platform, and that will complement the Rafales.
We are going to be spending more than 10 billion USD on this fighter. Does it make sense to spend more than 10 billion USD on a fighter which might not be able to penetrate PRC's defenses without a proper escort?
Rafales self escort, that is the entire point of having such a multirole fighter. You have come to the rather flawed conclusion that a) the PRCs defences are so formidable that only a stealth fighter would do b) that such a stealth fighter is available and c) the Rafale cannot get through the PRC defences.
Sorry, but none of these claims are tenable. As things stand, a Su-30 MKI with the Brahmos-A or Nirbhay as and when they come can & will be a potent counter to PRCs long range SAMs (S-300 PMU variants - just knock out the radar or command cabin), and so will the Rafale with any long range munition the IAF chooses for it.
Unfortunately, you are overstating the case for SAMs, they are useful, but only to some extent. They remain vulnerable to many threats. And munitions like the SCALP or KEPD or Taurus etc remain potent threats.