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How the JAS 39 Gripen Fighter Crushed China's Air Force in a Wargame


Sep 19, 2008
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Context: Report from exercises Flacon Strike 2015

WVR engaments:
The JAS-39 performance was at its worst inside the within visual range (WVR) envelope. Over a two-day period, PLAAF pilots shot down 25 Gripens at a loss of only one Su-27. The Su-27 has an advantage over the performance of the JAS-39 due to its more powerful Salyut AL-31F engines, and the Swedish aircraft was handicapped in that it was equipped with the older-generation AIM-9L Sidewinder instead of the current-generation Diehl IRIS-T missile," the trade magazine of record reported.

BVR engagements:
The situation changed greatly once the exercise transitioned to beyond visual range (BVR) combat, where the superiority of the JAS-39 became readily apparent. Thai pilots flying the Swedish aircraft shot down 41 Su-27s over a period of four days with a loss of only nine JAS-39s.

The Royal Thai Air Force's Gripens achieved 88 percent of its kills at 19 miles or greater, while the Su-27 had just 14 percent of its kills at this range. The RTAF also had 10 kills at a distance of more than 31 miles compared with zero long-distance kills by the Su-27. Chinese pilots were simply not experienced in avoiding missile shots, while they failed to take evasive actions for missiles with different ranges.

Moreover, as AIN also reported, "In subsequent exercises, the PLAAF fared better by sending the Chengdu J-10A - and then in 2019 the J-10C - in place of the Su-27."


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