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Counter-MMRCA Strategy of PAF

Najam Khan

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Counter-MMRCA Strategy of PAF
Posted on February 26, 2012 by Najam Khan

Indian Air Force (IAF) has finalised the long awaited deal of 126 Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) with Dassault, a leading aviation industry of France. Dassault will deliver 126 Rafale MMRCA to India in the next decade. The first batch of 18 aircrafts will be delivered from France. The remaining aircraft will be built in India. The $11bn (£7bn) contract is the biggest ever procurement made by the IAF. The Rafale Multirole fighter/bomber aircraft can participate in air, ground and sea operations in both short and medium ranges. In an additional multi-billion weapons package for these 126 aircraft, India will buy air-to-air and air-to-ground Precision Guided Munitions (PGM) and Joint Stand Off Weapons (JSOW). With a top speed of Mach 1.8, service ceiling of 50,000 feet and a range of 3,700km, it is no doubt a potent weapon for IAF and a threat to both China and Pakistan.

India took around five years to decide the best bidder as a mainstay aircraft for its air force. During these years, IAF conducted flight trial of Mig-35, F-16, F-18, JAS-39, Eurofighter and Rafale on different locations in India. The purpose was to look out for the lowest bidder and the most favourable combat aircraft, which will replace the aging Mig-21 fleet. As India moved forward in search for MMRCA platform, Pakistan aimed to counter India’s plans by reassessing its military doctrines of airpower and assessed the shortcomings.

India’s conventional arms build-up threatens Pakistan. The MMRCA deal is especially threatening for Pakistan because it augments India’s air power and worsens the conventional arms asymmetry between the two arch-rivals. To counter India’s increasing air power, PAF has followed a multi-pronged strategy which involves: replacing aging fleet of fighter aircraft; modernizing its existing fleet; procurement of force multipliers like Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) systems and Multirole Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft; induction of F-16C/D Block52 aircraft; and, rapid indigenous production of JF-17 Thunder. The procurement of FC-20/J-10B Multirole combat aircraft from China is a long term solution to IAF’s increasing airpower. Meanwhile, PAF is also enhancing skills of its pilots and aircrew by regularly participating in national and multinational exercises.

A decade ago, when India initiated the MMRCA project, PAF operated 250-300 combat aircraft including Chinese Origin A-5 for ground support, F-7P/PG for air superiority role, French built Mirages for surface attack/naval support and night strike role and F-16 A/B tasked with multirole operations. The Cold War era airframes, A-5, F-7 and Mirage fleet were reaching the end of their service, albeit they were overhauled at Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC), Kamra. The immediate solution at that time was to invest in the JF-17 Thunder project. JF-17 is believed to be the replacement of A-5, F-7 and Mirage fleet of PAF. Thus far, the situation was such that India was looking out to the skies while Pakistan was facing problems even in maintaining operational readiness of its air force.

JF-17 Thunder is one of the key solutions of PAF’s problems as it provides superb air-to-air and air-to-ground weapon carrying capability at an affordable cost. Pakistan has plans to induct 150 JF-17 Thunder till 2020. The first batch of 50 JF-17s named as Block-I will finish delivery by mid-2012. Block-II of 50 JF-17s with better avionics and aerial refuelling probe will be delivered till 2016. The third batch of 50 JF-17s with state-of-the-art avionics, electronic warfare and a wide array of weaponry will be delivered till 2020. The first two batches of JF-17 were meant to be well-timed and well-equipped replacement aircraft for A-5, F-7P and Mirage fleet. The third batch will include the Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW) capability, Air Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM) capability, Infra-Red Search & Track (IRST) capability and more use of composites to reduce the radar echo. No doubt, the third batch of JF-17 will be a punch to the enemy!

Pakistan also opted for acquisition of four Saab-2000 AEW&C systems from Sweden in 2007 and procurement of four IL-78 MRTT aircraft from Ukraine. Both of these projects were scheduled to finish in late 2011/early 2012. The need of an AEW&C was strongly felt by PAF ever since Kargil War in 1999. Such aircraft are a necessary requirement in any modern day air power campaign. Presence of an AEW&C system increases the situational awareness of the fighter and bomber aircraft and yields better results in any campaign. The procurement of IL-78 MRTT aircraft was to the allow Mirage and JF-17 to carry out deep strike missions inside the enemy territory and increase loiter time of these aircraft during Combat Air Patrol (CAP) missions. Furthermore, it enhances the strategic airlift capability of PAF. IL-78 strategic tanker and transport aircraft can also be used to carry large amount of fuel, ration and equipment to remote military bases.

PAF also modernized its air defence structure by acquisition of TPS-77 High Level Radar from U.S. It enhanced its Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities with purchase of Falco Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) from Italy. It improved its F-16 fleet with purchase of 14 F-16A/B Block-15 aircraft as Excess Defence Article (EDA) from U.S. The Command, Control, Computers, Communication and Intelligence (C4I) Systems were also enhanced by upgrading the air force bases inter-communication network.

PAF also placed an order for acquisition of 18 F-16 C/D Block52 aircraft from Lockheed Martin worth $1.5 billion and $650 Million worth air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons. The quantum leap achieved in this deal was the purchase of 500 AIM-120C5 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM) and 200 AIM-9M Sidewinder Short-Range Air-to-Air Missiles (SRAAM), which was necessary to maintain the air superiority. This was the first time that PAF has been given the opportunity to purchase AIM-120 Beyond Visual Range (BVR) weapons. In a separate $1.5 billion worth contract, PAF placed an order for up-gradation of 45 F-16 A/B fleet to Mid Life Upgrade (MLU) standard. This contract meant extension of service life of these aircraft for another two decades. The first batch of these MLU F-16s will be handed over to PAF in early February 2012.

During the past five year period PAF has participated in various multinational exercises to assess the training standards and skills of Pakistani pilots and crew. Table 1 shows the name, location and year of these exercises:
Exercises Location Year
Anatolian Eagle Turkey 2006, 2007, 2008,2009, 2009
Advance Tactical Leadership Course UAE 2006 and 2011
Al-Saqoor Saudi Arabia 2006 and 2011
Brightstar Egypt 2009
Iron Eagle UAE 2009
Falcon Air Meet Jordan 2010
Red Flag United States 2010-4
Green Flag United States 2010-9
Indus Viper Pakistan 2008
Falcon Talon Pakistan 2005 and 2009
Saffron Bandit Pakistan 2009
High Mark Pakistan 2005 and 2010
Shaheen-I Pakistan 2011

Table 1: Exercises in which PAF participated since 2005.

In all these exercises PAF pilots have flown with the world’s highly advanced combat aircraft which include USAF’s F-15 & F-22, French Air Force’s Rafale, Italian Air Force’s Eurofighter-2000, UAEAF F-16 Block60 and Mirage-2000-9, RSAF F-15C, PLAAF Su-27SK and various blocks of F-16 from TUAF, RJAF and USAF. Apart from interaction with military aviation professionals, these exercises gave PAF the opportunity to learn from the experience of other fighting forces.

Exercise High Mark is the biggest national exercise conducted every five years to assess the operational readiness of PAF. In High Mark 2010, PAF not only demonstrated its network-centric capabilities but also conducted Beyond Visual Range (BVR) and Within Visual Range (WVR) air combat missions, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR), close support, air-to-air refuelling and strategic airlift missions.

In late 2010, Pakistan acquired Electronic Warfare Tactical Training Range (EWTTR) from Turkey. This range located 31 miles (50kms) from Mushaf Airbase, Sargodha was made operational in early 2011. It has been used to monitor various fighter squadrons competing against each other in a simulated electronic warfare combat. This range provides much electronic warfare combat, anti-radar and radar-avoiding techniques to the pilots. Another range named Air Combat Manoeuvring Instrumentation (ACMI) is also present at Sargodha, where pilots learn the lessons of modern day air combat and fly against aggressor units of Combat Commanders School (CCS). Both of these ranges complement each other by providing simulated air combat and electronic warfare training platform to pilots.

While the prices of fighter aircraft and necessary equipment from the West were going sky high, the only solution for PAF was to hold the Chinese helping hand. After analysing JS-39 Gripen, Rafale and Eurofighter, PAF decided to pick the Chinese card by going for J-10 Vanguard Multirole aircraft. The initial plan was to buy 36 J-10A and equip fighter squadrons as early as possible. As India delayed the results of MMRCA, PAF had no choice but to allow its adversary to decide first. During these years, Chengdu developed much proficient version of J-10 named J-10B. J-10B (named FC-20 for PAF) will provide deep strike capability, greater range and air combat capabilities to PAF. The aircraft will be equipped with IRST, modern day BVRs, Precision Guided Munitions (PGM), Anti-Shipping Missile (ASM) and Anti-Radar Missiles (ARM). Induction of up to 50 FC-20 will complement the JF-17, F-7PG, F-16 MLU and F-16 Block52 fleet. The deployment of IL-78 Airborne Aerial Refuelling (AAR) platform will enhance range and strike radius of both JF-17 and FC-20 aircraft.

The counter MMRCA strategy of PAF also includes up-gradation of network centric capabilities by the procurement of ZDK-03 and Saab-2000 AEW&C systems. One out of four ZDK-03 is already delivered to PAF while the other will be received in mid-2012. Three out of four Saab-2000 AEW&C are in service with PAF, the fourth and the last one will be received this year. These two types of AWACS will provide strategic edge to both Western and Chinese origin aircraft in PAF’s inventory.

Rafale will be the mainstay of IAF in future. To deny the Indian air superiority in the region, PAF has to remain vigilant and continue with its diligent efforts for impregnable defence of the country.

Looking at the aforementioned procurement and squadrons re-equipment plans it is evident that PAF has invested great time and effort in implementing the counter-MMRCA strategy. This will make an efficient and hard hitting air force…an air force that will augment the defence of Pakistan and make PAF second to none among the world’s best fighting forces.

This article was published in The Weekly Pulse, Islamabad on February 24, 2012.
 

Peaceful Civilian

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The rafale which India is getting, Are they also getting Jamming technology in rafale???
They will get current RBE2 radar or AESA radar??:what:
Don't know but If they will get Thales SPECTRA then what are advantages.??
 

satishkumarcsc

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The rafale which India is getting, Are they also getting Jamming technology in rafale???
They will get current RBE2 radar or AESA radar??:what:
Don't know but If they will get Thales SPECTRA then what are advantages.??
Yes and along with SPECTRA EW systems.

But countering only MMRCA is not the only problem faced by the PAF. It is also the upgraded Mirage 2000 and the MiG 29 which is going to be a formidable addition to the IAF along with the MMRCA Rafale. The acquisition of SAAB AEW&C along with the ZDK-03 will help but Pakistan will require capable EW platforms to Jam Indian radar systems and missiles.
 

Wet Shirt Contest

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The rafale which India is getting, Are they also getting Jamming technology in rafale???
They will get current RBE2 radar or AESA radar??:what:
Don't know but If they will get Thales SPECTRA then what are advantages.??
IAF Getting Rafale With 100% ToT Including All Software Codes, SPECTRA , RBE-2 AESA ...Etc Etc, This Will Help Us Further To Boost Our Indigenous R&D
 

Jon Snow

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Very nice article - stated ground realities - Pakistan will get 150 JF 17 by 2020. Some members here were confident pakistan will get 150 JF 17 by 2015 and then order another 100-150.
 

Irfan Baloch

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Very nice article - stated ground realities - Pakistan will get 150 JF 17 by 2020. Some members here were confident pakistan will get 150 JF 17 by 2015 and then order another 100-150.


request to all members to be mindful that if they troll or flame and make off-topic posts then infractions will follow.
contribute in a positive manner without pseudo jingoism and ranting.


just written in red with big font so that no one misses it.
 

ARCHON

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RBE2 is PESA radar. There is no AESA radar in rafale. Just there is planning of RBE2AAA Which should be AESA but currently There is no existence of AESA radar in Rafale.
AESA is started in production phase... were u out of any info in last 3 years or is it wishful thinking???
 

OrionHunter

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Thanks for the heads up! :tup: A very exhaustive and excellent piece of info!

However, I would like to add that the author has not mentioned the 250 - 300 fifth generation Sukhoi T-50s that would be inducted into the IAF by 2016-17. That would be a game changer. I wonder what PAF's strategy would then be for countering the threat? I believe that the PAF would probably induct 3-4 squadrons of the Chinese JF 17 or even the J-20, though not before 2020.

But hey! There's gonna be no all out war in the future. Times have changed. Geopolitics have changed. The world has changed! These high tech toys are merely for deterrence. Counter insurgency and counter terror warfare is the future. Weaponology is undergoing a change to cater to this type of warfare.

Cheers!
 

bee3690

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RBE2 is PESA radar. There is no AESA radar in rafale. Just there is planning of RBE2AAA Which should be AESA but currently There is no existence of AESA radar in Rafale.

^^YES THERE IS AND INDIAN RAFALES WILL BE AESA ONES.
this is something u should read.

thales has developed the RBE2 AESA, an enhancement of the multi-function radar installed on the Naval Rafale. This radar is already designed to accomodate AESA front end. Thales launched the development of an AESA derivative for the Rafale in 1997, the program began developmental testing with Rafale aircraft in 2003 and 2004. As of April 2007,

Thales AESA RBE2 entered production engineering, following the conclusion of a series of flight tests on Mirage 2000 test-bed aircraft. Integration and testing of the AESA radar on board the Rafale are planned for the second quarter of 2007. Series production start- up is scheduled for late 2010. In October 2006, the French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA) and the industry team behind the Rafale program agreed to a roadmap that will deliver Rafale fighters equipped with a new generation of sensors, including the AESA RBE2 radar, to the French Air Force and Navy by 2012. Thales has been working with United Monolithic Semiconductors (UMS), a Franco-German enterprise owned by EADS and Thales, developing and producing microwave T/R modules. UMS optimized the gallium arsenide modules forming the radar’s antenna.

AESA design offers electronic scanning of the radar beam on both plans, (vertical and horizontal) offering new capabilities beyond the reach of conventional radars. These systems enable the simultaneous designation of multiple targets to different air-to-air missiles, while performing searches in directions completely independent of the target tracks. The level of situational awareness provided by AESA radar far exceeds anything available with conventional radars. RBE2 uses electronic scanning technologies to improve the aircraft low- altitude penetration capability by generating 3D ground map covering a wide area forward of the aircraft, supporting terrain following and maneuvers in the horizontal plane within the area scanned by the radar. The radar will also offer a high resolution ground mapping mode.
 

Jon Snow

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request to all members to be mindful that if they troll or flame and make off-topic posts then infractions will follow.
contribute in a positive manner without pseudo jingoism and ranting.


just written in red with big font so that no one misses it.
It was never my intent to troll - if my post contains some offensive material then please inform me so I can edit it.
The article clearly states that the PAF will get 150 JF 17 by 2020 but in every other JF 17 thread relating this subject members have posted of numbers 250 regularly and some have even said 350 - I think its important to find out exactly what is the final number that PAF is going to induct.
 

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