Indian Military News, Reports, Data, etc.


Skywatcher

Senior Member
Mk2 designation is probably misleading as it will be a MWF design unlike Mk1 which is LCA. The Teja brand itself is likely bad optics because of the long development timeline.

The piece I cannot get my hands around is the development time gap between Mk1 and Mk1A which the latter is not expected to have its first flight until 2022. The main upgrade to my knowledge is the AESA radar and the LRUs reconfiguration to bring down the weight. If this is a realistic timeline for an AESA upgrade then I would question the timeline on the JH-17 Block 3 which is essentially also an AESA upgrade. The PAF to my knowledge has not made a final decision on the radar but yet it is rumored to fly by end of 2019.

In comparison, it took 18 months to upgrade the ROCAF's first F-16 to the V standard and considering the APG-83 is a matured product on an existing airframe. There are things just not adding up.
Well, the F-16V could build off of Lockheed Martin's previous experience with putting AESA radars on Emirati F-16s.

I suspect that that a lot of the development time gap between the Mk1 and Mk1A has to do with money. India has a lot of money for defense, but a lot of that money goes towards (justifiably) personnel costs.
 

Zool

Junior Member
Well put. You have covered everything pretty well.
I will only say that building a modern fighter jet with all Indigenous systems is very difficult, with only a handful of countries like USA, France, EU and maybe Russia capable. Russia I say maybe because their aircrafts seem to always come off second best in all encounters, in the last 30 years. I used to put it down to inferior pilots flying Russian planes but the russian plane getting shot out of the sky, with Russian pilots in Turkey was eye-opening. Now the electronic warfare system is most important in fighters and Russians seem to lag in this.
Issue with India is we have a lot of the above mentioned Russian planes - su30 mkis - of the late 90s vintage and mirage 2000 of the 80s but after every aerial conflict, the old mirage seems to come off better. To be fair the mkis have not seen serious combat but the procurement of the Rafaels and more planes, does not speak very highly of the 250 odd mkis we have.
And we can bet our bottom dollar that the new planes procured won't be Russian built.
In modern combat the price or origin of the plane becomes immaterial and the only thing that survives is the capability of the plane.
I don't see Indian made planes reaching the capability of even f16 ver 70 in the next 10 years, wrt its radar, engine or electronics. And in the meantime, China our real threat - if we believe its advance in stealth planes-- would be much ahead.
So buy the latest planes from the west for the next 10 years but keep making incremental advances in avionics in the private sector, not public.
I won't get too far into Russia since it starts to get OT but I disagree that the Su-30MKI is in any way a drag on IAF capability. Until the Rafale (Rafael is an Israeli defense company) arrives and is inducted into operational service, the Su-30MKI remains the most potent Air Dominance fighter India has in terms of Radar/BVR (large BARS array), WVR maneuverability (ITR in particular with TVC engines), Combat Radius, Hard-Point Load out etc. Could India buy new Russian Aircraft? Sure. There is proposal from HAL for expanding the Su-30MKI licence order right now, between another 1-4 Squadrons worth of aircraft. Also the possibility of a MiG-35 buy. Plus the unknown future of Su-57 and a possible off the shelf purchase, since the development phase is not going to happen/done and dusted. Either of those would count as new Russian aircraft purchases in my book.

My understanding of the India-Pakistan skirmish earlier this year and the deployment of aircraft in specific roles is this: MiG-21s were forward deployed to bases near the boarder in A2A configuration as point defense fighters. This is due to their 'shorter legs' and imo, possibly, their lower attrition value. The Su-30MKI did not need to be forward deployed due to their longer range and were positioned further back in a BVR sniper role, due to their longer range radar. The Mirage were used in the A2G role as they have the best available strike package, having been fairly recently upgraded with relatively new ordnance (SPICE-2000 guide bombs) that the Indians just don't have for the Su-30MKIs. I don't know how much faith is in the Jaguars in limited precision strike, so they were not used. All of which makes tactical sense to me.
 

Zool

Junior Member
Mk2 designation is probably misleading as it will be a MWF design unlike Mk1 which is LCA. The Teja brand itself is likely bad optics because of the long development timeline.

The piece I cannot get my hands around is the development time gap between Mk1 and Mk1A which the latter is not expected to have its first flight until 2022. The main upgrade to my knowledge is the AESA radar and the LRUs reconfiguration to bring down the weight. If this is a realistic timeline for an AESA upgrade then I would question the timeline on the JH-17 Block 3 which is essentially also an AESA upgrade. The PAF to my knowledge has not made a final decision on the radar but yet it is rumored to fly by end of 2019.

In comparison, it took 18 months to upgrade the ROCAF's first F-16 to the V standard and considering the APG-83 is a matured product on an existing airframe. There are things just not adding up.
There are some answers. Tejas MK1 was still working up to FOC certification first half of this year. Testing with weapons releases, external gun firings, the inclusion and testing of an aerial refueling probe (a late specification requirement by the IAF) among others. Tejas MK1A obviously builds off of these requirements.

And back to the article I posted a couple of days ago; an actual order and funds for the Tejas MK1A have NOT been released by the Indian Government. You can't place engine orders with GE, or orders for 83 Radar Kits with the Israelis etc etc without having a firm order. Even local suppliers in India are unable to proceed. So a big part of this comes down to money and acceptance by the IAF and go ahead from the government. But IAF really does not appear to want funds spend on LCA and would rather that capital go to Rafale and MMRCA 2.0. It seems to be a real internal battle.

On Tejas MK2 or the MWF: this is supposed to be a dual-engine iteration of the current Tejas design work by ADA (Indian design bureau). It is highly conceptual right now, to the point where no official design work has actual begun as I understand it.
 

maint1234

New Member
Registered Member
"My understanding of the India-Pakistan skirmish earlier this year and the deployment of aircraft in specific roles is this: MiG-21s were forward deployed to bases near the boarder in A2A configuration as point defense fighters. This is due to their 'shorter legs' and imo, possibly, their lower attrition value. The Su-30MKI did not need to be forward deployed due to their longer range and were positioned further back in a BVR sniper role, due to their longer range radar."

We have been hearing about the 400 km range of the su30 radar since ages but now it emerges that we don't A2A missiles to match that range, with the r73 having a range of just 70 km. What's the use of such a detection range if the bvr capability is hampered by the actual missile range. Also American planes have demonstrated their actual bvr capability since the last 30 years but I don't recall any bvr kills-beyond 40 km- by a Russian plane in a war scenario ? And this applies not only to India or Russia but also China, as the best Chinese planes are still the ones procured from Russia. The homegrown Chinese planes are unproven entities.
 

Zool

Junior Member
"My understanding of the India-Pakistan skirmish earlier this year and the deployment of aircraft in specific roles is this: MiG-21s were forward deployed to bases near the boarder in A2A configuration as point defense fighters. This is due to their 'shorter legs' and imo, possibly, their lower attrition value. The Su-30MKI did not need to be forward deployed due to their longer range and were positioned further back in a BVR sniper role, due to their longer range radar."

We have been hearing about the 400 km range of the su30 radar since ages but now it emerges that we don't A2A missiles to match that range, with the r73 having a range of just 70 km. What's the use of such a detection range if the bvr capability is hampered by the actual missile range. Also American planes have demonstrated their actual bvr capability since the last 30 years but I don't recall any bvr kills-beyond 40 km- by a Russian plane in a war scenario ? And this applies not only to India or Russia but also China, as the best Chinese planes are still the ones procured from Russia. The homegrown Chinese planes are unproven entities.
R-73 is a SRAAM, best related to the Aim-9 class of missiles... The Indian Su-30MKI fly with the R-77 as their BVR missile, best related to the AIM-120 series. The Indian version of the R-77 likely tops out around 100km +/- 5km, while the AIM-120-C5 that Pakistan operates on its F-16s tops out around the same 100km +/- 5km. None of that accounts for ECM, terrain/weather (mountains etc) or off-board targeting from AWACS. So you are off in your analysis from the get go. Maybe this helps you appreciate the Su-30MKI a bit more. Could it benefit from an even longer range missile like the AIM-120D or PL-15? Of course it could.

Your remaining post takes a position that fails basic critical thinking; connecting a given weapon systems capability/viability to whether or not its been used in a live conflict, and a public one at that, with public details available that you would then be aware of. The one has no bearing on the other. Defense planners evaluate based on the most probable capabilities given the best information available. They don't plan with their head in the sand or in a manor that protects their ego; that kind of mentality is used in PR to reassure the public regarding an adversary, no more. I was going to explain further with some examples of why this is the case but I just shouldn't have to, the logic is that clear.

I won't go OT on China other than to suggest you read up on the J-20, J-10C, PL-15 & PL-10 to answer your question/comment about the overall most capable combat aircraft in the Chinese inventory (as a complete system - RCS, ECM, Radar, Primary Weapons Package etc). If you want to talk about this some more the appropriate thread would be: https://www.sinodefenceforum.com/ask-anything-thread.t7290/
 

Brumby

Major
We have been hearing about the 400 km range of the su30 radar since ages but now it emerges that we don't A2A missiles to match that range, with the r73 having a range of just 70 km. What's the use of such a detection range if the bvr capability is hampered by the actual missile range. Also American planes have demonstrated their actual bvr capability since the last 30 years but I don't recall any bvr kills-beyond 40 km- by a Russian plane in a war scenario ? And this applies not only to India or Russia but also China, as the best Chinese planes are still the ones procured from Russia. The homegrown Chinese planes are unproven entities.
I have never heard of a 400 kms detection range claim for SU-30s. The one constantly quoted is from the IRBIS-E radar installed in the SU-35 but that claim is a farce once the details are taken into account. Typically longer range missile integration comes as a result of radar upgrade or else it is pointless without the sensor range accompanying it. It is the reason why the Mk1A and the JF-17 are going for an AESA upgrade because there are already existing missiles that will benefit from greater range sensors.

In the recent border skirmish, the R73 was outsticked by the AIM-120C-5 but the SU-30MKI supposedly was able to break the radar lock from the F-16. No details are known but there is a maneuver that is publicly known by "notching" the radar i.e. pulling in below the velocity gate. Long range kills are difficult because there is more time to react and to maneuver.
 
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Brumby

Major
R-73 is a SRAAM, best related to the Aim-9 class of missiles... The Indian Su-30MKI fly with the R-77 as their BVR missile, best related to the AIM-120 series. The Indian version of the R-77 likely tops out around 100km +/- 5km, while the AIM-120-C5 that Pakistan operates on its F-16s tops out around the same 100km +/- 5km. None of that accounts for ECM, terrain/weather (mountains etc) or off-board targeting from AWACS. So you are off in your analysis from the get go. Maybe this helps you appreciate the Su-30MKI a bit more. Could it benefit from an even longer range missile like the AIM-120D or PL-15? Of course it could.
I am afraid India's options for longer range missiles for its SU-30MKI are rather limited and maybe looking at Israel for a solution.
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The recent border skirmish highlighted the deficiency of the R-77 and that it was not living up to advertisement.
In two years from now, the Indian Air Force's frontline Sukhoi-30 fighters may be re-armed with Israeli Derby air-to-air missiles after the jet's Russian-made R-77 missiles were found wanting in air combat operations over the Line of Control on February 27 this year.
Among the Indian Air Force's fighters which were targeted were two Sukhoi-30s which managed to evade the AMRAAMs which were fired at close to their maximum range of 100 kilometres. Fully defensive and desperate to escape the incoming AMRAAMs,
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escaped being shot down but were unable to retaliate the F-16s because they were out of position and their own missiles, the Russian R-77s, did not have the range to realistically engage the Pakistani fighters. IAF sources told NDTV that the Russian missiles do not match its advertised range and cannot engage targets which are more than 80 kilometres away.
This problem highlights a broader issue for India and that is the choice of platform is not just the aircraft's capabilities but the supporting ecosystem that goes with it. Russia while promoting the idea of a "Super Sukhoi" seem to have problems delivering an AESA radar. India lacks a questionable upgrade path for its SU-30MKI that will sustain it competitively in a changing environment. . While India frequently advertised the SU-30MKI maneuverability, the recent incident also highlights a fact that we have argued for some time is that it is only useful if you survive the BVR encounter and can get close enough to enter into a merge. It was kept out of the fight because its missiles was simply outranged. This is not notwithstanding that the SU-27 has a big RCS profile from which the SU-30MKI is based. It has a big relative RCS disadvantage and hence sensor shooter equation against modern 4 + gen fighters which typically has a 1m 2 RCS profile.

India needs to buy more Rafael but is hesitant because of cost. It needs it and the Meteor to counter the Chinese air threat and the PL-15. The Rafael is one of the few Western fighters that has IR based missile warning system. The Chinese fighters missile warning systems are UV based and are vulnerable to long range missiles when mated to passive sensors.
 

Zool

Junior Member
I am afraid India's options for longer range missiles for its SU-30MKI are rather limited and maybe looking at Israel for a solution.
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The recent border skirmish highlighted the deficiency of the R-77 and that it was not living up to advertisement.
Yes, currently limited in the sense of best available range & sensor capable BVR missile that can be equipped on the Su-30MKI. But that's not to say they don't have options.

India would like to equip Meteor on the Su-30MKIs but France won't allow it (if you want that capability, employ it on as many Rafales as you can afford), and Russia would want involvement and its blessing per licence agreement in any case. India would like to use I-Derby, which is equipping Tejas, on the Flankers, but rumor is that Russia is not approving this, at least for now.

So India is left with two immediate options: the indigenous Astra BVR missiles which are in development and have been test fired from the Su-30MKI, and more (and more capable) Russian missiles. They seem to be moving ahead with both; continuing Astra R&D with a longer range Mk2 variant, and purchasing new Russian missiles.

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Rahul Bedi, New Delhi and Dmitry Fediushko, Moscow - Jane's Defence Weekly
31 July 2019
The Indian Air Force (IAF) has signed deals with Russia worth about USD700 million for an additional 1,000 air-to-air missiles (AAMs) to arm its fleets of MiG and Sukhoi combat aircraft.

Military sources in Moscow and New Delhi told Jane’s on 30 July that the order for the AAMs, which was placed in early July, is for about 300 R-27 (AA-10 ‘Alamo’) infrared-guided (IR) or semi-active radar-guided, medium-to-long-range missiles; 300 R-73E (AA-11 ‘Archer’) IR-guided, short-range missiles; and 400 R-77 (AA-12 ‘Adder’) active radar-guided, medium-range missiles.

The sources said the R-27R1/ER1 and R-27T1/ET1 variants, which are fitted with semi-active and passive infrared seekers, would arm the IAF’s Sukhoi Su-30MKI and upgraded MiG-29M fighters. Moreover, they said that the R-77 and R-73 AAMs would also be carried by the IAF’s MiG-21 ‘Bison’ fighters.

Some of the R-73s might also arm the IAF’s fleet of Mirage 2000H fighters, but this has yet to be confirmed.

Military sources in New Delhi said the missiles were being acquired under the Ministry of Defence’s (MoD’s) 10-I (Intense) provision, which mandates that all three military services stockpile ammunition and stores for 10 days of “intense warfare”.

The AAM procurements are being carried out under the recently enhanced financial powers of the three services, which enable them to make ‘emergency’ materiel purchases of up to INR5 billion (USD72.7 million) each time to maintain prescribed war wastage reserves (WWR)
More R-77's but very interestingly, R-27ER1's for the Su30MKI's, which have a top range of approx. 130km with some interesting re-targeting capabilities after launch. This will be a capability improvement for the IAF and the most potent A2A missile for India until the Rafale and Meteor arrive. It will outpace anything currently in the PAF inventory (AIM-120-C5 or PL-12), but obviously remain behind the latest AMRAAMs or the PL-15. Which takes us to...


This problem highlights a broader issue for India and that is the choice of platform is not just the aircraft's capabilities but the supporting ecosystem that goes with it. Russia while promoting the idea of a "Super Sukhoi" seem to have problems delivering an AESA radar. India lacks a questionable upgrade path for its SU-30MKI that will sustain it competitively in a changing environment. . While India frequently advertised the SU-30MKI maneuverability, the recent incident also highlights a fact that we have argued for some time is that it is only useful if you survive the BVR encounter and can get close enough to enter into a merge. It was kept out of the fight because its missiles was simply outranged. This is not notwithstanding that the SU-27 has a big RCS profile from which the SU-30MKI is based. It has a big relative RCS disadvantage and hence sensor shooter equation against modern 4 + gen fighters which typically has a 1m 2 RCS profile.

India needs to buy more Rafael but is hesitant because of cost. It needs it and the Meteor to counter the Chinese air threat and the PL-15. The Rafael is one of the few Western fighters that has IR based missile warning system. The Chinese fighters missile warning systems are UV based and are vulnerable to long range missiles when mated to passive sensors.
The upgrade path for the Su-30MKIs has actually become quite clear. It would, and mostly likely will, follow the VKS path for upgrading the Su-30SMs. Some Indians have discussed and perhaps expected, significant structural modifications, but I never saw that as likely. Adding more carbon composite and airframe design changes would certainly raise the upgrade time and cost. What is more realistic and coming from the Russians is upgrade to the Radar/Sensor Package, ECM, Mission Computers and perhaps the Engine. This would also allow the fighters to carry the new K-77 series of BVR missiles, which at approx. 200km +/- range, really round out the package.

I don't have enough actual data to make statements on system weaknesses or specific detection ranges, but when it comes to RCS and general usefulness, you and I both know even a moderately well shaped LO design aircraft, with or without ram coating, with internal weapons bays and a reasonably advanced and sized ESA radar in the nose, will have the see-first-shoot-first advantage over any 4th Gen aircraft with hanging ordnance. So the ability to keep the fleet of Su-30MKIs, or even Rafales, relevant in the battle space, is to have a similar aircraft that can lead in, guide the BVR launch of the 4th Gen aircraft, and then release its own missiles. This is where India needs an F-35, Su-57 or AMCA type of platform. Until then the best they can do is probably increase and improve their AWACS capabilities. My money would be a Su-57 purchase in the medium term.

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Our Bureau

12:19 PM, February 28, 2019

Russia will upgrade its Su-30SM fighter jets with armaments and on-board equipment from the more powerful Su-35 aircraft and has offered to do the same to the Indian Su-30MKI.

“The Sukhoi Su-30SM fighter jet will be standardized with the 4++ generation Su-35 fighter by upgrading its onboard equipment and armament to cut its cost price and breathe a new life into the plane,” Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov told journalists on Tuesday.

The heavily upgraded Su-30SM plane may open a new niche for Russia in India, he said. "Considering that there are about 200 such planes in India [the Su-30MKI as the baseline version of the Su-30SM], an opportunity will probably open for modernizing this fleet to prolong its service life," the vice-premier explained, according to TASS.

Under Russia’s diversification program and amid the declining volume of the defense procurement plan, domestic defense enterprises should shift their focus towards life cycle maintenance and upgrade, Borisov noted.

During their upgrade the Su-30SM fighters would also get AL-41F-1S engines mounted on the Su-35 planes thus increasing thrust to be able to carry heavier armaments. Irkut Corp had announced last week that the prototype of the upgraded Su-30SM would be ready before the end of 2019.

The Su-30SM upgrade will boost the fighter’s combat capabilities: it will increase the range of detecting and identifying air targets and furnish the plane with new precision weapons to hit air, ground and sea targets at a range of several hundred kilometers, TASS said.
 

Brumby

Major
Yes, currently limited in the sense of best available range & sensor capable BVR missile that can be equipped on the Su-30MKI. But that's not to say they don't have options.

India would like to equip Meteor on the Su-30MKIs but France won't allow it (if you want that capability, employ it on as many Rafales as you can afford), and Russia would want involvement and its blessing per licence agreement in any case. India would like to use I-Derby, which is equipping Tejas, on the Flankers, but rumor is that Russia is not approving this, at least for now.
There are two pertinent points worth emphasizing. First is the idea of mating Russian platform to French missile with Israeli ECM in between. This is not a recipe I believe is technically sound even if by some miracle Russia agrees or the French is willing to go along. I think this offers an insight on how disjointed and myopic India’s procurement approach is when deciding on aircraft procurement. Realistically, India is stuck with whatever Russia can offer in terms of future prospect as long as it operates the SU-30MKI.

The second point is that a missile effective range is limited by the accompanying sensor range. For example, even if the Meteor can be integrated to the SU-30MKI its NO11M radar would not be able to take advantage of the Meteor’s extended range. In the recent border skirmish, the SU-30MKI was out-sticked by the F-16 due to a sensor/RCS combination. The NO11M while supposedly has impressive detection is not what it seems when examined in detail. I will use the border exchange example with the F-16 to demonstrate this point

According to public records, the NO35 has a slightly better performance than the NO11M and I will use its data since I am more familiar with the underlying details. Source :
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The NO35 has a detection range of 200kms against a 3 M2 RCS This however needs to translate to a meaningful level in its exchange with the F-16 which has an RCS of 1 M 2 against the SU-30MKI which has a RCS of between 10 to 15 M2. The excel sheet below provides the details of the conversion.

upload_2019-8-20_21-19-9.png

What should be noted is that the impressive detection number of the NO35 is based on a 50 % probability of detection unlike Western radars that use 80 % PD. I am also assuming that the F-16 used by the PAF was the Block 52 which has a AN/APG-68 radar. I am not sure whether it has the better ranged (V) 9 and so I have used both in the analysis. Radar lock is based on tracking range and not detection and this has to be further adjusted. The net result is that the F-16 would have been able to secure a radar lock on the SU-30MKI at around 100 kms (due to its higher RCS) and according to public records it was around this distance that the AIM-120C 5 was released. In contrast, it is not likely that the SU-30MKI was able to lock onto to the F-16 beyond 80 kms and that was what happened although the blame was placed on the limitation of the R-77. As I said before, even if the SU-30MKI was integrated with a Meteor at that time the end result would be the same as the accompanying sensor was the limiting factor. In summary, sensor, missile and relative RCS matters and the SU-30MKI has a big RCS disadvantage.

The upgrade path for the Su-30MKIs has actually become quite clear. It would, and mostly likely will, follow the VKS path for upgrading the Su-30SMs. Some Indians have discussed and perhaps expected, significant structural modifications, but I never saw that as likely. Adding more carbon composite and airframe design changes would certainly raise the upgrade time and cost. What is more realistic and coming from the Russians is upgrade to the Radar/Sensor Package, ECM, Mission Computers and perhaps the Engine. This would also allow the fighters to carry the new K-77 series of BVR missiles, which at approx. 200km +/- range, really round out the package.
In order that the SU-30MKI secures a better range radar it has to move up the technology chain to an AESA radar but Russia has had difficulty to-date with such a development.

I don't have enough actual data to make statements on system weaknesses or specific detection ranges, but when it comes to RCS and general usefulness, you and I both know even a moderately well shaped LO design aircraft, with or without ram coating, with internal weapons bays and a reasonably advanced and sized ESA radar in the nose, will have the see-first-shoot-first advantage over any 4th Gen aircraft with hanging ordnance. So the ability to keep the fleet of Su-30MKIs, or even Rafales, relevant in the battle space, is to have a similar aircraft that can lead in, guide the BVR launch of the 4th Gen aircraft, and then release its own missiles. This is where India needs an F-35, Su-57 or AMCA type of platform. Until then the best they can do is probably increase and improve their AWACS capabilities. My money would be a Su-57 purchase in the medium term.
F-35 is not a realistic option for the same reason that Turkey was removed from the program. If I was a betting person, I would not rely on the prospect of a timely AMCA given India’s historical performance. That leaves the SU-57 and India has a better insight than anyone outside Russia. The reason they pulled out is because they don’t think it was up to expectation. That leaves the Rafael as a decent stopgap.

Finally I see quite a bit in this forum the idea of AWACs providing off board targeting solutions. I am not convince that this is technically feasible given that AWACs operate the frequency bands that do not have sufficient resolution beyond providing bearing information. I would like to see technical papers arguing how this would actually happen.
 

maint1234

New Member
Registered Member
Brumby, you have put everything in a nutshell. USA makes the best fighter planes, as a complete package.
India with its relative better resources to Pakistan would like a dominent offensive position, just preventing a shoot down is not enough. But in absence of the rafale, India is easily 2nd best.
Its not only detection but getting a proper lock and then being able to maintain the lock, defeating the anti missile measures of the f16s.
The downing of the 50 year old mig21 is not a issue but the ineffectiveness of the su30 was a eye-opener.
Interestingly in 2011, the Indian audit department raised the issue of poor quality and effectiveness of the R77 and termed them unfit for use.
This should be worrying for the Russians/chinese as well or maybe they already know where they stand.
For comparison, Pakistan has 86 f16s while India has 40 mirages. Also 500 amraams with Pakistan for the f16s.
 

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