5 Rafale’s or 500, Pakistan is ‘Absolutely Ready’ For India was the official answer of Pakistan’s DG ISPR when asked about their country’s answer to the Indian procurement of the Dassault Rafale. Pakistani military analysts and former Pakistan Air Force pilots are pretty much convinced that Chinese made PL-15 BVRAAMs on JF-17 Block-III fighter jets gives them an absolute edge over the Indian Dassault Rafale fighter jet because of the so-called deadly combo of alleged 200 km range of the PL-15 with AESA Radar of the JF-17 Block-III.

Off late Pakistani media with its panelist have been eager to dismiss the Rafale threat and have been boosting how capable JF-17 Block-III will be that it can take on IAF. Not many tactical arguments have been seen but the majority of the boosting has been coming from retired PAF Air Marshall Shahid Latif who was program director of the JF-17 fighter jet and was among the first pilot to ferry F-16 from the USA to Pakistan in the late ’80s.

Remember it was Latif who proudly announced on February 27, 2019 “Today, same jets targeted and shot down Indian Jets which entered Pakistani Airspace,” he said this retaliation carried out by the Pakistani Air Force (PAF), a day after the Balakot strike on Twitter and later Pakistan military denied the claim that US-made F-16 jets were involved in the attack. “The aircraft which engaged those targets and fought them were JF-17,” stated then Pakistan Army spokesman – Major General Asif Ghafoor.

Wreckage of self exploded AIM-C120-5 AMRAAM later burst PAF claims of exclusively using its JF-17 fighter jet against India but the lie continued even when 8 JF-17 which formed the second layer of attack aircraft behind F-16s was pinned down by Two Mirage-2000 that were in the vicinity clearly showing that even 40 years old Mirage-2000 can handle multiple JF-17s when it comes to confrontation let alone a single Dassault Rafale will be able to do better in similar engagement in future.

PL-15 BVRAAM with a range of 150-200km on a JF-17 Block-III might seem deadly on the paper against a Dassault Rafale but we have little information on the framed Chinese missile in the open-source to confirm what kind of capabilities it can deliver. Since PL-15 uses a conventional dual-Pulse motor for its long-range capabilities many neutral analysts are convinced that actual range against a fighter jet sized target might be just over 100km. Chinese are not much upfront of the missiles NEZ (no-escape zone) which is far more important than the actual range of the missile.

PAF will be counting on Quantity vs Quality in one to one engagement between JF-17s and Rafale if it ever takes place. JF-17 will fire upon Rafale if IAF pilots do not use the advantage of the first shot capability with their Meteor BVRAAM missile. PAF almost credited Mig-21Bis kill to the Chinese JF-17s and their SD-10 BVRAAMs recently but had to take a massive U-Turn after it was caught faking it but it has not stopped PAF from promoting JF-17s as the next big thing since most of the F-16 fleet procured in the early ’80s are reaching End of their Life Circle soon and recent crash and one shot down by India confirms that its aging fast with little or no further upgrades possible and tight control of second-hand F-16 Market means that PAF will have to make JF-17s its mainstream aircraft even though Chinese themselves have never brought them nor it has been runaway export success as predicted by PAF in past. Never the less JF-17 cannot be dismissed on face value nor the possibility of another Hussain who will boost how he shot down an imaginary Rafale with a PL-15.

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