Foreign Affairs

Pakistan’s improved JF-17 fighter jet no match for India’s S-400 and Rafale capabilities

JF-17 fighterPhoto Credit: Hindustan Times

The S-400 system isn’t just for shooting down hostile jets from above. It’s all about providing cross-border visibility up to roughly 300 kilometers into enemy plain land.

Following Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s return from China, Islamabad is pitching the purchase of 50 JF-17 Block III fighters as a counter to India’s S-400 air defense system due to its stealth features. This is nothing more than Pakistani domestic chauvinism, which is completely devoid of facts.

The block III single-engine JF 17 fighter’s airframe is believed to be made of composite material to provide the stealth capabilities required to escape the adversary’s air defense system and target high-value assets. Even the indigenous Tejas fighter is made up of 45 percent composite material, but does this mean it can take on two S-400 systems stationed by the Chinese PLA in Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh, respectively? The JF-17 is powered by the same Russian RD 33 engine that powers Indian MiG-29 air defense fighters, which are notorious for flame-outs.

The S-400 system isn’t just for shooting down hostile jets from above. It’s all about providing cross-border visibility up to roughly 300 kilometers into enemy plain land. In the case of hostilities, the Pakistan Air Force will be unable to operate its airborne early warning systems and deep penetration radars because the S-400 missiles will shoot them down. As a result, Pakistani JF-17 jets will be battling without the assistance of AWACS and obsolete Chinese radars. The only exception to this scenario is high mountain terrain, which is exclusively found in Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh union territories.

The Indian Air Force has a multi-layered defense system that does not rely just on the S-400. It boasts advanced fighters such as the Rafale, which is equipped with top-of-the-line AESA radar and the deadly Meteor 140-160km range beyond visual range air-to-air missile. This means that JF-17 will have no idea when it was shot down from the sky. To take on the enemy, the IAF has a 160km range medium range surface to air missile (MRSAM), as well as digital Pechora and Akash surface to air missiles. To counter stand-alone missiles fired at the air defense network, the S-400 system is always accompanied by close-in weapon systems (CIWS) such as the Russian Pantsir or the American Phalanx.

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By TIS Staffer
the authorBy TIS Staffer

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