Friday, November 26, 2010

FIGHTING A MYTH - THE SU-30MKI

In the history of aerial warfare, their have always been two sides, the blue side and the red side. Both these sides fight each other to gain aerial superiority, in order to gain an upper hand in any ongoing conflict. It is not necessary that both sides are equally strong. While one may have quantitative edge, the other might have qualitative and training edge. A professional airforce is that which perceives the threat and train accordingly, while learning from its mistakes. While going through the history of rivalry in the arena of air combat, one rivalry which started in 1947 and is still going on strong is the one between the Pakistan Airforce and the Indian Airforce. It takes guts and lots of character, with a small arsenal and meager resources, to stand tall in front of the world’s fifth largest airforce.

PAF had always anticipated a threat from the IAF since its existence and trained accordingly. This level of training was reflected in the first ever brush with IAF when a young PAF transport pilot refused to surrender to the attacking IAF Tempest fighters and evaded air arrest by aggressive maneuvering. Later when PAF brought down an Indian spy plane during an Eid Day, it again gave the signal that PAF is training on the correct footage.

PAF F-86F intercepts and downs a Canberra flying a PR Sortie outside the ceiling range of the Sabre
In 1965, when PAF and IAF first met in the air, the IAF had both the quantitative and qualitative edge over PAF but failed to capitalize on it due to better training of the Pakistani pilots. While this war raised the image of the PAF in the international arena, IAF start to train for another clash with PAF, while learning from their mistakes. While IAF transformed in an aggressive force adding deadly weapon systems in its inventory, PAF was hit hard by sanctions, arms embargo, political and economic crises. Thus when it met IAF in 1971, there was very little difference in its operational capabilities as compared to 1965. Thus when the conflict started, PAF was forced to fight a defensive war from the start, whereas IAF showed more character than it did in 1965. In the 1971 debacle, the only saving grace for Pakistan was the performance of the PAF. PAF was optimized to conserve itself, survive and fight a defensive war, which it did well.

A PAF F-86E guns down a supersonic MiG-21FL in aerial combat
After the war, both PAF and IAF moved forward upgrading their capabilities in order to maintain aerial superiority in any conflict. During the Afghan War, PAF was modernized and received a new outfit of the 80s in order to counter the Russians.  In 1990, for the first time in the history of subcontinent, PAF stood equal to IAF in quality, better than IAF in training and inferior to IAF in quantity.

Mixed formation of F-16A, Mirage V and F-6 during the 80s
But then PAF lost its way, while IAF rapidly moved onwards. Thus by 2000, IAF had the quantitative and qualitative edge over the PAF, while PAF was only deemed as a better trained force. While there were many military standoffs and red alerts, both these forces never got a chance to engage each other in real combat. However a lot of shadow boxing took place, but that’s another story.

PAF's backbone throughout the 90s consisted of Chinese built aircraft including MiG-19 and MiG-21 derivatives
PAF’s modernization started in 2003 and by 2010, PAF again was able to lessen the technological gap between PAF and IAF. In 2010, both PAF and IAF had matured in one of the world’s most professional airforce. While PAF countered every move which IAF took to gain superiority, there is still one move which needs to be countered. That is to purchase a weapon system which can take on against their main premier strike fighter, the Su-30MKI on equal basis. With the Su-30MKI in the Indian arsenal, the Indian threat to Pakistan and China will be more pronounced than before. Many IAF commanders claim that the strike and combat capability of the ~ 100 IAF’s Su-30 MKI multirole aircraft is more than that of the entire 750 other combat aircraft of the Indian Air Force. All VP’s in Pakistan are now vulnerable, and so are the cities and military targets in South China.

The Threat, Su-30MKI

INTRODUCTION TO THE SU-30MKI
The Indian Su-30MKI is to date the most advanced Su-27 derivative to enter production and with the exception of mission avionics and software is a credible equivalent to the F-15E/I/K/S family. It also underscores the 'no holds barred' international arms market, in which an export customer is supplied with a product which is half a generation ahead of the Russian air force - the IAF designates it as its Air Dominance Fighter.


The Su-30s seem to have captured the Indian nation's imagination; they are a favorite of the media and anybody interested in military matters. Public appearances are frequent - both in flypasts as well as static display. And everytime the public is left spellbound. It is should not come as a surprise, that the Su-30MKI has virtually become the mascot of the Indian Air Force and will continue to be one for the coming decades.



The Su-30MKI is the first Russian aircraft designed in collaboration with a foreign customer. It was born when the IAF decided to acquire the Su-30MK and include modifications according to its needs. Its competitor was the Mirage-2000-5, an excellent multirole aircraft in its own right. It had the advantage over the Su-30 given that the IAF was extremely satisfied with the results from the Mirage-2000H. However, the Su-30MKI was found to be a lot cheaper than the Mirage-2000-5, which ultimately proved to be the deciding factor.


BASIC DESIGN
The Su-30MKI is a highly integrated twin-finned aircraft. The airframe is constructed of titanium and high-strength aluminum alloys. The engine nacelles are fitted with trouser fairings to provide a continuous streamlined profile between the nacelles and the tail beams. The fins and horizontal tail consoles are attached to tail beams. The central beam section between the engine nacelles consists of the equipment compartment, fuel tank and the brake parachute container. The fuselage head is of semi-monocoque construction and includes the cockpit, radar compartments and the avionics bay. Su-30MKIs also have a high percentage of composites used in the air-frame - rumored to be 6% by weight. The Indian Flankers are composed of an all-composite structure like wing spars and wing boxes, air intakes, fairing skins, fairing blocks, co-cured co-bonded fin and centre-fuselage components, elevators, rudder and its all-composite torque shaft, ailerons, belly fairings, landing gear doors, ceramic thermal barrier linings, and ceramic brake-pads.


The Su-30MKI aerodynamic configuration is an unstable longitudinal triplane. The canard increases the aircraft lifting effectiveness. It deflects automatically and allows high angle-of-attack flights. The integral aerodynamic configuration combined with thrust vectoring results in practically unlimited maneuverability and unique taking off and landing characteristics.

Stability and control are assured by a digital FBW. The canard notably assists in controlling the aircraft at large angles of attack (AoA) and bringing it to a level flight condition. The aircraft has a newly developed wing with increased relative thickness, accommodating a larger amount of fuel. The wing will have high-lift devices featured as deflecting leading edges and flaperons acting the flaps and ailerons. At subsonic flights, the wing profile curvature is changed by a remote control system which deflects the leading edges and flaperons versus the AoA (Angles of Attack).

The Su-30MKI has no AoA limitations: it can fly at even 180 degree AoA and still recover. This high super-agility allows rapid deployment of weapons in any direction as desired by the crew. The addition of another seat means that the pilot is free to concentrate on flying the aircraft while the second pilot can engage targets.


Flight Control and Other Avionics
For flight control, reliability and survivability, the aircraft has a FBW with quadruple redundancy. Depending on the flight conditions, signals from the control stick position transmitter or the automatic FCS will be coupled to the remote control amplifiers. Upon updating, depending on the flight speed and altitude, these signals are combined with feedback signals fed by acceleration sensors and rate gyros. The resultant control signals are coupled to the high-speed electro-hydraulic actuators of the stabilizers, rudders and the canard.

An important part of the FBW is based on a stall warning and barrier mechanism with an individual drive of its own. It prevents development of aircraft stalls through a dramatic increase in the control stick pressure. This allows a pilot to effectively control the aircraft without running the risk of reaching the limit values of AoA and acceleration. The stall control is accomplished by the computer of a signal limiting system, depending on the configuration and loading of the aircraft. The same system sends voice and visual signals, as the aircraft nears a stall condition.

For acquiring predictive maintenance capability, the IAF and Rosoboronexport FSUE have joined forces with South Africa 's Aerospace Monitoring And Systems (Pty) Ltd (AMS). Predictive maintenance means the on- and off-board processing of aircraft sub-systems data, resulting in an accurate, conclusive indication of the health and usage status of various airborne systems.

Cockpit                                       
The SU-30MKI employs extensive use of Sextant Avionique (now Thales Avionics) components in the cockpit. A total of 6 LCDs, 5 MFD-55s and 1 MFD-66 for displaying information and accepting commands are used. The six LCDs have a wide-screen, offer image-superimposing and are shielded to make them readable even in bright sunlight. All the flight information is displayed on these four LCD displays which include one for piloting and navigation, a tactical situation indicator, and two for display systems information including operating modes and overall operation status. The cockpit also retains some traditional dial displays as standbys.


The aircraft is fitted with a satellite navigation system (A-737 GPS compatible), which permits it to make flights in all weathers; day and night. The navigation complex comprises of Thales Totem Inertial Directional System (INS) and short and long range radio navigation systems. It also has a laser attitude and a heading reference system. An automatic flight control system makes all phases of its flight automatic, including the combat employment of its weapons. Once the automatic flight control system receives information from the navigation system, it solves the route flight tasks - involving a flight over the programmed waypoints, the return to the landing airfield, making a pre-landing maneuver and the approach for landing down to an altitude of 60 meters, as well as uses the data supplied from the weapons control and radio guidance command systems to direct the aircraft to the target and accomplish the attack.


The communications equipment comprises secure VHF and HF radio sets, a secured digital telecommunications system, and antenna-feeder assembly. It mounts an automatic noise-proof target data exchange system, which provides for coordination of the actions of several fighter aircraft engaged in a group air combat. The voice radio communication with ground control stations and between aircraft is possible up to a range of 1,500 km in the Su-27SK, and the Su-30MKI should equal it if not better this. The Integrated Information System (IIS) allows the performance of a ground serviceability test of the entire equipment and the location of troubles to an individual plug-in unit. In case of an in-flight failure, the indicator of the integrated information system will provide the pilot with a text message about the failure and recommendations on how to correct it or will dictate further actions. The message is also duplicated by voice.

A two-pilot crew provides higher work efficiency as well as the engagement in close and long range combats and the air situation observation. Besides, the same dual control aircraft can be used as a combat and training aircraft. Additionally, the integrated air-borne equipment enables the aircraft to be used as an air command post to control the operation of other aircraft.

In practice, the front seater is the pilot and the back seater is the WSO (Weapons Systems Operator). The pilot flies the aircraft and handles air-to-air and some air-to-surface weapons, as well as countermeasures. The WSO takes care of the detailed aspects of navigation, ground radar mapping & target designation, setting up delivery solution for air-to-surface weapons, designating for guided bombs/missiles, ECM, and so on. There are many tasks which overlap; either pilot or WSO can do the job depending on circumstances. The aircraft can be flown from either seat, however only the front cockpit driver can operate the helmet mounted sight as sensors are only in the front. The rear cockpit has a HUD repeater.

The crew are provided zero-zero KD-36DM ejection seats which have a slightly modified communications/oxygen interface block compared to the Su-27. The KD-36DM ejection seat is inclined at 30º, to help the pilot resist aircraft accelerations in air combat.

The cockpit of the existing Su-30 series provides plenty of opportunities for further growth, both in display technology and back end processing. With militarised commodity AMLCD display panels becoming increasingly available, the trend we have observed with the Sextant displays in the MKI is likely to grow over time, driven by the need to compete against US and EU cockpit designs. We should not be surprised to see India and Israel become prominent in the Sukhoi MLU market. The same will be true of mission computer equipment.


Radar
The forward facing NIIP NO11M Bars (Panther) is a powerful integrated radar sighting system. The N011M is a digital multi-mode dual frequency band radar. The N011M can function both in air-to-air and air-to-land/sea mode simultaneously while being tied into a high-precision laser-inertial / GPS navigation system. It is equipped with a modern digital weapons control system as well as anti-jamming features. The aircraft has an opto-electronic surveillance and targeting system which consists of an IR direction finder, laser rangefinder and helmet mounted sight system. The HMS allows the pilot to turn his head in a 90º field of view, lock on to a target and launch the much-feared R-73E missile. The Sura-K HMS for the Su-30MKI has been supplied by the Ukranian Arsenal Company.

For aircraft N011M has a 350 km search range and a maximum 200 km tracking range, and 60 km in the rear hemisphere. A MiG-21 for instance can be detected at a distance of up to 135 km. Design maximum search range for an F-16 target was 140-160km. The radar can track 20 air targets and engage the 4 most threatening targets simultaneously. These targets can include cruise/ballistic missiles and even motionless helicopters.

The forward hemisphere is ±90º in azimuth and ±55º in elevation (+/-45 degrees vertical and +/-70 degrees horizontal have also been reported). N011M can withstand up to 5 percent transceiver loss without significant degredation in performance.

The Su-30MKI can function as a 'mini-AWACS' and can act as a director or command post for other aircraft. The target co-ordinates can be transferred automatically to at least 4 other aircraft.

Ground surveillance modes include mapping (with Doppler beam sharpening), search & track of moving targets, synthetic aperture radar and terrain avoidance. To penetrate enemy defenses, the aircraft can fly at low altitudes using the terrain following and obstacle avoidance feature. It enables the pilot to independently find his position without help from external sources (satellite navigation, etc.); detect ground targets and their AD systems; choose the best approach route to a target with continuous updates fed to the aircraft navigation systems; and provide onboard systems and armament with targeting data.

The N011M offers a quantum leap in technology over the earlier Russian radars. Small ground targets, like tanks, can be detected out to 40-50 km. N011M ensures a 20 m resolution detection of large sea targets at a distance up to 400 km, and of small size ones - at a distance of 120 km. Coupled with the air-launched Brahmos-A AShM, the Su-30MKI will become an unchallenged platform for Anti-Ship duties.

N011M Bars supplied to the IAF have progressively updated capabilities. Future upgradation plans include new gimbals for the antenna mount to increase the field of view to about 90-100 degrees to both sides. New software will enable a Doppler-sharpening mode and the capability to engage up to eight air targets simultaneously.

Russian designers have stated that they believe that the key to dogfight supremacy rests in the pilot's ability to engage the enemy in any position relative to their own aircraft. While TVC permits post-stall maneuvering and pointing which are impossible in conventional aircraft, they are convinced that rearward facing radar and missiles that can be fired in the aft-quadrant all join to make an unbeatable integrated weapons system.

The follow on to the BARS is the new Irbis-E (Snow Leopard) hybrid phased array, in development since 2004 and planned for the Su-30 block upgrade. The Irbis-E is an evolution of the BARS design, but significantly more powerful. While the hybrid phased array antenna is retained, the noise figure is slightly worse at 3.5 dB, but the receiver has four rather than three discrete channels. NIIP claim twice the bandwidth and improved frequency agility over the BARS, and better ECCM capability.

The performance increase in the Irbis-E is commensurate with the increased transmitter rating, and NIIP claim a detection range for a closing 3 square metre coaltitude target of 190 - 215 NMI (350-400 km), and the ability to detect a closing 0.01 square metre target at ~50 NMI (90 km). In Track While Scan (TWS) mode the radar can handle 30 targets simultaneously, and provide guidance for two simultaneous shots using a semi-active missile like the R-27 series, or eight simultaneous shots using an active missile like the RVV-AE/R-77 or ramjet RVV-AE-PD/R-77M. The Irbis-E was clearly designed to support the ramjet RVV-AE-PD/R-77M missile in BVR combat against reduced signature Western fighters like the Block II Super Hornet or Eurofighter Typhoon. Curiously, NIIP do not claim superiority over the F-22A's APG-77 AESA, yet their cited performance figures exceed the public range figures for the APG-77.
The existing N011M series lacks a Low Probability of Intercept capability, in part due to antenna bandwidth limits and in part due to processor limitations. This is likely to change over the coming decade, with the Irbis-E, as customers demand an ability to defeat or degrade Western ESM equipment and the technology to do this becomes more accessible.
The N012 tail warning radar has been reported to be part of the Su-30MKI suite and is offered as a retrofit to other models.

Weapons and related Avionics
The Su-30MKI combat load is mounted on 12 stations. The maximum advertised combat load is 8000 kg (17,600 lbs). All compatible Russian/Soviet AAMs and AGMs are available to the IAF, which infact has quite a large variety of these weapons. The RVV-AE is not being inducted into the Russian Air Force but have been bought by the IAF. The aircraft features the built-in single-barrel GSh-301 gun (30 mm calibre, 150 rounds).


Over 70 versions of guided and unguided weapon stores may be employed, which allows the aircraft to fly the most diverse tactical missions. Speculation is that the Su-30 can also carry a tactical nuclear payload, though only Jaguar and Mirage aircraft are known to be equipped for the role thus far.

The laser-optical locator system is advertised to include a day and night FLIR capability and is used in conjunction with the Helmet mounted sighting system. The Laser Guided Munitions will be employed in conjunction with the Rafael Litening pod. The APK-9 datalink pod is associated with the Kh-59ME.

The OLS-27 (Izdeliye 36Sh) is a combined IRST/LR device for the Su-27, similar to the MiG-29's KOLS but more sophisticated, using a cooled, broader waveband, sensor. Tracking rate is over 25deg/sec. 50km range in pursuit engagement, 15km head-on. The laser rangefinder operates between 300-3000m for air targets, 300-5000m for ground targets.

Search limits for the OLS-27 are ±60deg azimuth, +60/-15° in elevation. Three different FOVs are used, 60° by 10°, 20° by 5°, and 3° by 3°. Detection range is up to 50km, whilst the laser ranger is effective from 300-3000m. Azimuth tracking is accurate to 5 secs, whilst range data is accurate to 10m. Targets are displayed on the same CRT display as the radar.

The OLS-30 (36Sh-01), is an improved version of OLS-27 developed by UOMZ with a vibration-proof receiver, micro-cryogenic system, improved service life and new software. Perhaps also has TV channel. Range 90km in pursuit, 40km head-on. Possibly the same as Izdeliye-52Sh.

ECM/Self Defence
An integrated ECM system turns on the warning units that provide signals about incoming enemy missiles, a new generation radio recon set, active jamming facilities and radar & heat decoys. It also includes an electronic intelligence unit, a chaff and flare dispenser and a RWR system. The RWR system is an indigenous product developed by DRDO called Tranquil (Tarang Mk2). Tarang is already deployed in IAF MiG-21 Bison and MiG-27ML fighters. Phase-I and Phase-II aircraft have SPO-32 (L-150) Pastel radar-warning receivers and no RF jammers. Latest aircraft are compatible with the Elta EL/M-8222 EW pod and so are the older Su-30MK/Ks.

Engines and Fuel System
The Su-30MKI is powered by the Al-31FP (P for povorotnoye meaning "movable"), which is a development of the Al-37FU (seen in the Su-37 Terminator).

AL-31FP which is designed by the Lyulka Engine Design Bureau (NPO Saturn) is also different from Al-31F (by the same company). The Al-31F is the 'baseline' powerplant found in most Su-27 and its variants, and perhaps in the China's J-10 in the future and lacks TVC. The AL-31FP was only 110Kg heavier and 0.4 m longer than the AL-31F, while the thrust remains the same. Planes equipped with AL-31F can be upgraded to AL-31FP later on without any changes in the airframe. It is being produced now at the Saturn manufacturing facility at Ufa, Russia.

The Al-37FU (FU stands for forsazh-upravlaemoye-sopo or "afterburning-articulating/steerable-nozzle") basically added 2D Thrust Vectoring Control (TVC) Nozzles to the Al-31F. 2D TVC means that the Nozzles can be directed/pointed in 2 axis or directions - up or down. TVC obviuosly makes an aircraft much more maneuverable. Al-31FP builds on the Al-37FU with the capability to vector in 2 planes i.e. thrust can be directed side-ways also. The nozzles of the MKI are capable of deflecting 32 degrees in the horizontal plane and 15 degrees in the vertical plane. This is done by angling them inwards by 15 degrees inwards, which produces a cork-screw effect and thus enhancing the turning capability of the aircraft.


The TVC nozzles are made of titanium to reduce the nozzle's weight and can deflect together or differentially to achieve the desired thrust vector for a particular maneuver. The engine designers are also working to reduce the infrared signature for thrust settings below afterburner.

Also, the 2-nozzles can be vectored un-symmetrically, i.e. each nozzle can point at different directions independent from the other nozzle and thus multiplying the effect. The aircraft is capable of near-zero speed airspeed at high angles of attack and super dynamic aerobatics in negative speeds up to 200 km/h.

TVC allows the MKI for example, to rapidly loose speed and turn in any direction and fire its weapons. The complete range of maneuveres possible in the MKI are impossible on any other combat fighter in production. "We even made a corkscrew spin a controllable manoeuvre - the pilot can leave it at any moment by a single motion of the stick that engages thrust-vectoring and aerodynamic surfaces," says Sukhoi's earlier general designer Mikhail Simonov.

Two AL-31FP by-pass thrust-vectoring turbojet reheated engines (25000 kgf full afterburning thrust) ensure a 2M horizontal flight speed (a 1350 km/h ground-level speed) and a rate of climb of 230 m/s. The Mean Time Between Overhaul (MTBO) for the AL-31FP is given at 1,000 hours with a full-life span of 3,000 hours. The titanium nozzle has a MTBO of 500 Hrs.

There is no a strain-gauge engine control stick to change the engine thrust in the cockpit, rather just a conventional engine throttle control lever. The pilot controls the aircraft with help of a standard control stick which is positioned between his legs. On the pilot's right there is a switch which is turned on for performing difficult maneuvers. After the switch-over, the on-board computer determines the level of use of aerodynamic surfaces and swiveling nozzles and their required deflection angles.

The Su-30MKI has a large range of 3,000 km without refueling which allows for autonomous operations that require high endurance. Also, an inbuilt In-Flight Refueling (IFR) probe that is retracted beside the cockpit during normal operation.

A normal fuel load of 5270 kg ensures a 4.5 hour combat mission, and the air refueling system increases the flight duration up to 10 hours with a range of 8000 km at a cruise height of 11 to 13 km. Thus the endurance of the aircraft is limited solely by the human factor, hence the logic of going for a twin-seat fighter. Since the arrival of the IL-78MKI, IAF pilots have flown 10 Hr missions over the Andaman and Nicobar Islands from Pune.

Interestingly, the total time spent in air combat maneuver varied from a maximum of 22.04 minutes to a minimum of 4.01 minutes, with an average of 14.04 minutes. In percentage figures, in long duration sorties, the pilot spent 12.5 percent of the time on ACM as compared to the total duration of the sortie.



SU-30MKI AS A BVR FIGHTER
BVR aerial engagement is the use of missiles to kill an airborne foe at distances outside the range of the human eye. This term has existed in the realm of air combat for quite some time. The ability to actually carry it out, at least on a regular and reliable basis, has not. The definition is simple. The actual execution is rather more complex. BVR combat has been the goal of aircraft and weapon designers since the dawn of the radar guided missiles. The Cold War drove technology at a furious pace and the development of the SAM (surface to air missile) helped to accelerate the air to air aspects of radar and missile technology simultaneously. To be an effective BVR platform, one should have powerful radar coupled with a highly competent BVR missile round.

In the long range BVR combat game, radar range is a key factor and for any given radar technology, the larger the aperture the better. The basic Su-27 was meant to be an F-15 killer. To demonstrate the aircraft's potency as an F-15 killer, the Sovs in 1986 stripped and modified the T10-15 prototype, redesignated it the P-42 and promptly took out no less than 22 FAI records, mostly in the time to height categories previously held by the F-15A. On the same footings, the Su-30MKI’s development took place after careful study of the F-15C’s BVR capability. F-15C performed exceptionally well during the 80s and 90s in BVR combat against the MiGs (21/23/25/29). IAF studied these aerial engagements, pointed out the deficiencies in the MiG fighters and removed them by adding new and improved features in their new aircraft.
The N011-M Bars Radar for the Su 30 MKI is a phased array system with a powerful processor and multiple targets track capability using NCTR7 methods. For straight flying Boeing-747 sized aircraft N011M has a 350 km search range and a maximum 200 km tracking range. PAF F-7MP/PGs can be detected at a distance of up to 120-125 km. Design maximum search range for an F-16 target was 140-160km. The radar can track 20 air targets and engage the 4 most threatening targets simultaneously. One of the most deadly aspects of this radar is that it can detect a pursuing fighter 60 km in the rear hemisphere and engage it with Python-5 or rearward firing missiles.


PAF vs iaf bvr capability
The main threat which comes from the Su-30MKI in BVR combat is in the form of R-77 Adder missiles. The missile uses a multi-function doppler-monopulse active radar seeker. The radar features two modes of operation, over short distances, the missile will launch in an active "fire and forget" mode. Over longer distances the missile is controlled by an inertial auto pilot with occasional encoded data link updates from the launch aircraft's radar on changes in spatial position or G of the target. As the missile comes within 20 km (12.42 mi) of its target, the missile switches to its active radar mode. The host radar system maintains computed target information in case the target breaks the missile's lock-on. If the seeker is jammed, it switches automatically to a passive mode and homes on the source of jamming. Fired against high-altitude non-maneuvering targets approaching head-on, the R-77RVV-AE has a range of 100 km (62 mi), with the seeker locking on at around 15 km (9.3 mi), and a maximum speed of Mach 4 (3,045 mph (4,900 km/h)). At short range, it can engage targets maneuvering at up to 12g. The basic version of this missile is said to have a maximum range of 90 km (55 mi). The missile can also be used from internal carriages where the control fins and surfaces will fold flat until it is catapulted clear of the aircraft for motor ignition.


Here would come a factor that which missile is better, the IAF R-77 or the PAF AIM-120C. The R-77's main advantage over the AIM-120C is in range and maneuverability. Russians have many weapon systems which are superior in many categories, speed, lethality, durability, rough usage etc. But problem is US weapon systems are combat proven. Russian weapons are not combat proven like the US weapon systems, and AIM-120 has more combat kills then Russian AAM missiles. The superior speed, range or multi- seeker capability does not make R-77 a better weapon, as the main factor making BVR missiles is the electronics, in which US has a superior infrastructure

Other problems stem from either very little actual combat information or in the cases of the AIM-120 being many different variants and the latest versions have their test ranges undisclosed to maintain a bit of secrecy.


The draw-backs of R-77 are basically its design where the lattice control surfaces provide higher maneuverability for short periods without stalling and up to 12g but more lift = more drag therefore at higher mach number around 3+ the R-77 will tend to loose more energy due to heavier structure and drag. Though it would have a lot more initial maneuverability compared to an AIM but at longer ranges it will bleed more, therefore the heavier weight for compensation. AIM has a lofted profile which gives the seeker better performance because it attacks a target from top thus giving it more RCS to lock on to whereas R-77 lacks that. The nose cone heating problem with the R-77 is either a reality or a fad no one knows. Though the design bureau claims that 3 years of research on the bearing support for the lattice structure which reduces the flow separation at high AOA it is more maneuverable by providing more lift and low drag. If the lift is high and a heavier body at high mach number excessive g turns would bleed not only energy due to higher drag also create excessive heat but then it cannot be known for sure if the nose cone experiences problems because its aerodynamically smoother part of the missile section and should allow for proper flow separation around it. It has to be understood that R-77 is a very recent missile comparatively and can still have some glitches but in all represent best what Russia can offer recently.

After AIM-120C, PAF fields the SD-10 (PL-12) medium range missiles to counter the Su-30MKI. The new PL-12 active guided air-launched anti-aircraft missile uses the radar and data link from the R-77, combined with a Chinese missile motor. Resulting combination has a greater range than the Russian missile, and a fire-and-forget active guidance (from R-77) capability comparable to the modern AIM-120C.

The PL-12 is outwardly very similar to the US-designed AIM-120 AMRAAM. The two share a comparable aerodynamic configuration, although the PL-12 is a little longer, wider and heavier than the AMRAAM.

The PL-12 has four engagement modes. To take the greatest advantage of its maximum range it will use a mix of command guidance (via a datalink) plus its own inertial guidance before entering the active radar terminal guidance phase. The missile can also be launched to a pre-selected point, using its strap-down inertial system, before switching on its own seeker for a terminal search. Over short ranges the missile can be launched in a 'fire-and-forget' mode using its own active seeker from the outset. Finally, the PL-12 has a 'home-on-jam' mode that allows it to passively track and engage an emitting target, without ever using its own active radar or radar from the launch aircraft. This capability is the foundation on which the capability of anti-radiation missile is developed. The seeker is connected to a digital flight control system that uses signal processing techniques to track a target. The missile's warhead is linked to a laser proximity fuse.


The PL-12 is claimed to have an operational ceiling of at least 21 km, with a maximum effective range of 100 km and a minimum engagement range of 1,000 m. The missile has a 38+ g maneuvering limit and, according to CATIC, it has been tested for a 100-hour captive 'live flight' life

COUNTERING THE SU-30MKI
Countering the Su-30MKI needs a positive and aggressive approach by the opposing pilots. No doubt that the MKI has unmatched flight characteristics, but it is not invincible.

Being aggressive is a pre requisite to be a PAF pilot. Whenever a pilot flies in an aerial engagement, he wins half the fight if his approach is positive and aggressive, no matter how superior the opponent is. If the pilot flies in half heartedly, hoping for a miracle, he is most likely to be shot down. Coming back to counter the Su-30MKI, first we have to list down its main advantages over PAF fighters.
  1. First look/First shoot advantage due to the powerful combination of  NIIP NO11M Bars Radar and the R-77 BVR Missile
  2. Better kill prospects in short range combat due to R-73/Python-5 coupled with HMS
  3. Better dogfighter due to super maneuverability due to Thrust Vector Control capability.
PAF interceptors constantly trains to counter the Su-30MKI, as it is their belief that if they can counter the MKI, then they can counter any aircraft which the IAF will field against them.

Primary PAF fighters optimized to take on against the MKI are:
·        F-16C Block-52
·        F-16A Block-15
·        JF-17 Thunder
·        F-7PG

F-16 is the natural choice to take on against the Flanker, because it has the perfect weapons’ and avionics’ suite. F-16A Block-15 is also in the process of receiving similar capabilities as the aircraft are currently in process of receiving MLU-III upgrades. The AN/APG-68 V9 Radar can pick the Su-30MKI at a range of 120 km under a dense hostile environment. However while flying as an air defense fighter, the Su-30MKI would be easily picked up by the Pakistani land based and aerial based radars and live picture of the battlefield can be relayed to the F-16s via Link-16 datalink systems. Thus the Su-30’s first look advantage can be nullified if PAF utilizes its AEW&C system. The primary BVR weapon for the F-16s is the AIM-120C5 AMRAAM.


JF-17 Thunder ranks after F-16 as an interceptor in PAF. JF-17 was tailored to meet the requirements of the PAF. It possess’ the capabilities of engaging in offensive aerial combat missions as well can defend itself against the top of the line fighters by IAF. It can manage up to 40 targets, monitor up to 10 of them and simultaneously fire on two BVR targets. The detection range for Su-30MKI is 110 km (100 km in look-down mode). Armed with SD-10 BVR missiles, it can engage the Su-30MKI tactfully.
 

F-7PG is the current mainstay of PAF. Though highly inferior as compared to the Su-30MKI, these fighters account for their small RCS, and high maneuverability to counter the MKI. Armed with a combination of SD-10 and AIM-9L Sidewinders, the F-7PG can engage targets effectively from the range of 60 km, can simultaneously track 8 targets and engage one target a single time. But using fire and forget missiles, it can rapidly engage 4 aircraft within 6 seconds gaining advantage in air combat. The F-7s strictly follow the ‘In-Close, Stay-Close, and Kill-Close strategy’, which is their only chance to defeat the new generation of all-aspect, high-off-boresight missiles such as the R-73, Python 5, and MICA-IR. Obviously one has to survive the transit from beyond visual range (BVR), to within visual range (WVR), to inside of minimum range (This can only be possible using full support from AWACS). Once there the F-7s 30mm twin barreled gun system is capable of all-aspect, high crossing angle kills at ranges inside of 1500 feet.


Utilizing the information regarding the Su-30MKI and keeping its capability in mind, we will now simulate the Su-30MKI against PAF fighters in a simulated aerial engagement.

WARGAMING THE PAKISTAN AIRFORCE AGAINST SU-30MKI
Both PAF and IAF possess technology for reliable, accurate, and effective BVR combat. Missile and radar electronics are robust and lethal. The real problem comes with tactics, command and control, and positive identification.

MINDSET BEFORE ENTERING IN THE ARENA
Let’s take a look at the mechanics of a BVR engagement. All PAF pilots need to follow a six point formula before challenging a Su-30MKI in the air.
  1. Know how to use your radar effectively to detect and track targets
  2. Know your enemy and their capability
  3. Know your weapon envelopes and those of your opponents
  4. Use all the tools at your disposal AWACS, RWR etc
  5. Always assume the bandit carries several rounds of his best weapons
  6. BE AGGRESSIVE!
The standard formation employed by PAF pilots is ‘Fingertip’. Distances will range from 50’ minimum to 200’ max wingtip clearance. Each flight position has specific assigned in-route and combat duties & responsibilities. Flight lead can change these as deemed necessary/when required, but the following are the standard:


Lookout: #1 Front Quarter, #2 Left, #3 Right,  #4 Rear
Radar: #1 primary for initial engagement looks, #3 backup
Radar Scans: #1 normal, #2 low, #3 normal, #4 high
Radio/AWACS: #2
Navigation: #3 backup lead, be aware of navigation status, plans and issues at all times
TWS/RWR: #3
Escape Routes: #4 is primary, #2 backup

The basic idea when flying a BVR fight is to maximize our distance from the target aircraft (locked) when the missile goes automatons while minimizing the enemies distance from our aircraft, along with keeping our range from the enemy aircraft where a drag maneuver can be successfully done at its maximum.  We use the term "drag" for the turn and run scenario, and it can work very well in a multi-plane engagement as the bandit tends to go "fangs out" when he sees this.

The first part of a BVR engagement involves detection. Once detected, the pilot will resolve the targets ID. With a positive ID he will employ weapons in such a manner as to kill without getting killed. The main goal is to utilize the BVR capabilities of the aircraft to kill the enemy before entering the classic "furball" once inside the visual arena.

Since the main objectives of BVR combat is to kill the opponent in such a way that the bad guy does not even know what hit him. PAF have this capability, but it takes training and discipline to make it work. There are things to consider during each phase of the process. Success will depend on the ability to understand some basics about geometry, radar, and missile capability. For ease of explanation we will look at three phases of a successful BVR air-to-air engagement.

DETECTION
One of the really huge problems with BVR combat is how to identify friend from foe. Shooting down friendly aircraft is something to be avoided at all costs. There are many layers of complexity involved in making sure one must kill the bad guy — and not his wingman. Tactics and procedures help to minimize the threat, and electronics back up the tactics. The use of IFF (Identification Friend or Foe) is used to ID targets. Also, geographical coordinates and flight patterns can be used to distinguish good from bad. IFF is nothing more than a transponder that is interrogated and replies with a specific code. If the code is correct, it’s a friendly. If not, lock and load. Most of the time there will be very descriptive Rules of Engagement (ROE). The ROE will drive the type of engagements. There has historically been very little true actual hostile BVR air-to-air at all. Most of this has taken place as small engagements with few aircraft. That won't change in the near future.

Depending on the mission, there are many ways to detect a potential target. It could be as simple as a dot on the scope, or as complicated as a data linked target on the situation displays MFDs provided by ground or airborne assets hundreds of miles away. Utilizing the radar to find and track a target routinely is only done with a lot of practice. A pilot has to be extremely proficient in the expert use of the radar and all its capabilities. Proper employment of the radar will yield a picture of the enemy threat. Targeting is done by the individual flight, based on threat assessment or by AWACS or ground controlled radar.

First and foremost is how the pilot go about employing a weapon to kill this target without getting killed. There are a lot of unknowns in air combat. Many times a pilot must give his best guess using experience and the assets available to make decisions about how its going. No matter how it’s done, at some point he will have to use his radar to get some info on the potential target. Doing this may alert the enemy and it may not, but it’s a chance he must take. Radar warning gear will tell the pilot if he is being probed or locked. The bad guy may have this information also. Once the pilot uses his radar to get this information he must assume the foe is alerted. Initial detection should build a picture of what is going on. IFF and communication with AWACS or data link will confirm whether or not our "bogey" is hostile. Once determined, an intercept is desired, the pilot set up geometry to enable his weapons to be employed as fast as possible.


Prosecution
Once the decision has been made to destroy the target, the pilot will move into the prosecution phase. A lot will depend on the range at detection and the target actions. What kind of aircraft is it? What type weapons is he carrying? All good questions and the fighter must assume the worst and plan on it.

Two things the pilot must do to improve against the odds are climbing and accelerating. Climbing to a higher altitude will allow his missile to fly farther. Utilizing kinetic energy (missile flying downhill) and thinner colder atmosphere will allow the missile its maximum range capability. Range will vary dramatically as the aircraft change altitudes. A missile capable of a 40-mile kill at high altitudes may be hard pressed to make it to 20 miles at lower altitudes. Accelerating gives the missile that much more kinetic energy at the start of its flight enhancing its range. Any similar move by enemy will bring him in our high level SAM range.

Let us suppose that we are flying a combat air patrol during any red alert situation. There are three possible scenarios. First (and most desirable) the bandit continues on with no apparent action to counter our moves. Second, he turns and runs away! This may be just fine, as we will have denied the enemy the use of that airspace at that time. This may even be our mission and doing so without firing a shot is optimum. Third, he points his nose at us and turns on his high powered radar to lock us up!

If the target runs away, we prosecute until we have successfully denied enemy use of the airspace for however long we need to. Mission accomplished. We remain on station until we need to do it again or we get relieved. PAF F-16s have conducted this type of interception in December 2008 against IAF Su-30MKI and Mirage-2000H, where both the bogies turned tail and returned back to their own airspace.

In the situation where no response is noted, we press into a shot, or make him run prior to that. If you get to weapon release without a response, you will likely win the engagement barring any unfortunate failures. Unless your opponent is really lucky, he will die before he can get a missile in the air at you. Most kills even in the visual arena occur in this fashion with the foe not knowing what hit them.

Our third choice becomes the main challenge for us. If you can’t get away with surprise and you have the situational awareness to continue to a missile shot, expect that your opponent will too. Your radar warning gear should be turned on and jamming used as conditions and equipment permit. You will likely expect the same thing to be used against you. For most of our scenarios you can expect the Indian aircraft will get a shot off first. Most of the ranges for these weapons are greater than western types and an experienced opponent will use this advantage. At this point our prosecution phase has usually wound up with the two fighters nose on to each other and accelerating. Having an idea about when a foe can fire will help determine what you do in the final phases of an engagement.


While the miles count down we monitor our displays and shoot our first missile at maximum range. At this point we then do a very high G turn to the left or right to put the radar target at the edge of our scope. We call this a crank, or check turn. This immediately causes the opponent’s missile to have to fly farther while our missile heads straight at him. This is also called an "F-pole" maneuver. If you’re lucky, and there is no missile headed at you, you have a big advantage.


He most likely now knows a missile is headed his way and must do something to avoid taking it in the face. He will have to jink hard and employ countermeasures to shake your missile. Its likely he will be successful as at maximum range your missile won't have a lot of maneuvering capability left to stay with him. It’s important to understand how missiles work at this point. Just because you get a "shoot" cue at max range, doesn't mean your going to kill your opponent. All a shoot cue means is the missile can make the range to hit the target if NOTHING changes. If the target jinks or maneuvers the missile has to also make the intercept.

This maneuvering uses energy and reduces its available G at intercept and reduces its range at the same time. The aircraft getting the first shot has a big advantage for obvious reasons. A missile has a motor that burns very quickly and then stops very soon after launch. Once the acceleration phase ends the missile is coasting to the target. The farther out it is, the slower it will be when it reaches the target.

There is nothing wrong with using two missiles to kill an opponent. It’s a good technique to use against an opponent that has a longer-range weapon. Disciplined pilots will hold a missile inside of max range as the closer you get the higher the odds of a kill go up. Its called probability of kill. Closer shots yield higher energy/available G at intercept. Throwing a missile out at max range will cause an opponent to take his nose off of you and destroy his energy state trying to defeat your incoming missile. He may even lose radar contact with you. We term this "wasted" missile a "spoiler" meaning it is likely not going to hit, but it forces the bogey to react and defend against it as I mentioned above. It "spoils" his game plan.


The Kill
Let’s go back to our crank maneuver. We likely did this around 20 - 25 miles (longer if at high altitudes) and maintained our energy. We watch the missile time of flight and support it with radar energy as long as we need to. Russian weapons need to be supported longer usually and the ability to shoot multiples is not as good as in western aircraft. Supporting a missile means nothing more than maintaining a radar lock so the missile can get critical real-time information on what the target is doing. Missiles like the AMRAAM can be fired in certain modes which don't have this "support", but its optimum to provide it to the missile. Your probability of kill goes up dramatically the longer that you can maintain the lock. The AIM-120 can be fired and at some point in its time of flight, the missile can complete the intercept with a high probability of kill without support. At that point, the fighter (shooter) can turn and run negating any missiles fired at it outside of 8 -10 miles. This better "fire and forget" ability is what gives western pilots an equalizing tool when it comes to dealing with the really long range missiles like the R-77. Once we get a time out on our first missile, or no shot is detected against us we pitch back hard at the bandit. We fire another shot unless our first shot was successful. Right about now is when the BVR engagement ends and we enter the visual arena.


If you detect a missile coming at you, the only thing to do is to turn hard away from it and run. As a rule of thumb, if you think its closer than ten miles a hard turn into the missile coupled with a rolling maneuver will give you a good shot at defeating it. If you can see it visually then wait until its so close as to be uncomfortable and then a high G turn into the missile is your best defense. Chaff and or flares should be used as appropriate. Remember the longer the range you can detect a shot, the better chance you have of defeating the missile. Of course this is just a canned scenario, it won't always happen like this.


Another big problem with BVR engagements is how to tell if you got a kill or not. The bogey won’t send you a personal message and there likely is no one around to confirm the kill. Inside 20 miles or so depending on the weather, you may see an explosion and you might not. It’s likely that if you’re still alive you killed the target, and you better watch for his wingman. Another key will be your radar and your warning gear. AWACS can sometimes confirm a kill as it can see better resolution than fighters radar, there may even be parts falling. Whatever happens, don't go scouting for your kill. Maintain mutual support and hurry back to your station/friendly airspace and determine your fuel state and further combat capability.


Defense in the BVR Arena
When you press a bogey/bandit into a BVR engagement its not always going to go the way you want. If you're flying an F-16, you’re likely at a disadvantage when it comes to the idea of a missile joust. Most Western fighters don't possess a true long-range missile (yet) like the R-77. Soviet and more recent Russian BVR doctrine has always emphasized firing pairs of missiles, one with heat-seeking guidance and one with radar guidance, to defeat countermeasures. With the option of active radar, heat-seeking and anti-radiation seekers, and an imaging seeker, the result is a very lethal cocktail from a defensive countermeasures perspective - a defending fighter may only have datalink transmissions to provide warning and no indication of the seeker mix on the inbound missiles.

Even though the enemy may have an advantage with pure range and first shot, it doesn't mean you can't win. There are a few basic tactics that will work to level the playing field, but remember the bad guy can employ them too.

Let’s say we have detected and are prosecuting a bogey that has been confirmed to be hostile. The bandit has us locked and your radar warning is indicating a shot has been taken. You're still 12-15 seconds away from an Rmax (max range) shot on the HUD, what do you do? At this stage you don't have to give up and run. The first tactic to try is the "beaming maneuver". Simply stated, you do a high G 90 degree turn left or right to try and destroy the Doppler shift for his radar. Most likely this will break lock and the missile won't be able to engage you. The radar needs to "see" the high closure or Doppler shift values on the returned energy to maintain a lock on your jet. Be aware that R-77 will have an active capability so you're not necessarily out of the woods. The beam maneuver will also work against the missile itself once its gone active.


This beam maneuver, also termed "using the notch" (for the Doppler notch) should be held for a short period of time and then you reevaluate what your radar warning is telling you. If missiles are still flying at you, you turn to put the missile/bandit at your six at the same time unloading the aircraft and heading for the deck at as fast as the jet can go! If you do this outside of 10-12 miles, you will likely defeat the missile. Hopefully he won't run you down or you have some place to go which is "safer".

If the beam maneuver works pitch back to reacquire and hopefully have evened up the missile range problem as the bandit now is looking at a shot but so are you. At this point if you can't build enough situational awareness to continue, head towards safer airspace as fast as possible with your head on a swivel and good mutual support.

Turning and running 180 degrees from the bandit is useful if you want to try and deplete his supply of missiles. A well-disciplined pilot won't let you do this more than once though.

It’s an easy kill for a second flight or your wingman if the bandit does not see them yet. Conversely, don't let a bandit do this to you. If they turn and run let them! As I said previously, much would depend on what your mission is and how you accomplish it. Denying the enemy use of the airspace for a determined time, or protecting another group of aircraft may be the mission at hand. If you suck the fighters away from that goal your mission is accomplished. We all want to shoot down fighters but its not always required.


Jamming and electronic countermeasures are another great equalizer. Using good jamming gear will also help to even out the playing field, especially when it comes to missile shot parameters. You may not be able to totally defeat a missile or radar, but you will degrade it to a large extent. Sometimes this may be enough to get off that important first shot in a BVR fight. It’s generally accepted that western aircraft and missiles are slightly better at this game and this helps to make it a more even game. Remember that using jammers is going to highlight your position, maybe not exactly, but it will show a general direction in which to look.


CLOSE COMBAT STRATEGIES              
If the Indian pilot misses us with two to four BVRs and has us in close, he has done something very wrong. The last ditch engagement is one with close combat IR missiles and guns. It will not be a surprise if you find yourself against an enemy Su-30MKI head on with very much less space to maneuver. The ‘In-Close, Stay-Close, and Kill-Close strategy’, is the only chance to defeat the new generation of all-aspect, high-off-boresight missiles.


Fighting in a tight spot is a good way to shoot down the enemy along with the wingman. The main reason is that in close combat, or turning dogfights, pilots tend to highlight themselves with afterburners and missile shots are directed towards them.

In dissimilar air combat training, or while flying an air defense mission, the Su-30MKI is a menace and too hard to handle. However in real time combat, and that too inside hostile territory, it takes cool nerves of the pilot rather than a high performance aircraft, to win a battle.

Rule number one in close combat is to fire a medium range BVR missile at a range of 20km followed by all aspect IR missiles on the first opportunity to disrupt the enemy’s attack plan and try to get as close as you can to get out of his IR missile range, while deploying flares. A barrel roll attack may come in handy, as altering the angle of approach while maintaining speed may confuse the enemy if he wants to take a shot using HMS at the same time while carrying out evasive maneuver. This maneuver will let the enemy in a state of panic as now he will utilize his full capabilities in carrying out evasive maneuvers.


When compared with other fighters, the Su-30MKI releases huge amount of heat signature which makes it a magnet to IR missiles. Added to it, any TVC maneuver will add to its heat signature. Thus any positive IR shot taken from a distance of 10 km would have a high chance of hitting the aircraft. Even if the Su-30 survives this trick, it would buy enough time for the PAF fighters to close in for a gun kill at the huge plane. Though the Su-30MKI has the capability to take on against multiple targets with missiles, it cannot repeat the same feat with guns and thus has to concentrate on a single target.

The life expectancy in a knife fight in hostile airspace is something like 30 - 40 seconds, good for us while fighting a defensive battle but very bad for the Su-30MKI. A fully engaged Su-30MKI is a dead duck against PAF defenses, because as the pilot would be indulged in a dogfight he would not have time to monitor the situational awareness, and thus would not be able to react if any other defending fighter attacks it with missiles.


DENYING THE SU-30MKIs THE USE OF AWACS KILLER MISSILES
In any battle, it would be IAF’s first priority to destroy our aerial assets using Vympel R-77M, Novator KS-172 and Zvezda-Strela Kh-31 missiles. Owing to the range of these missiles, PAF AWACS, AEW&C and ELINT aircraft would have to be deployed in such a way, as to provide maximum coverage while staying at a safe distance. All approach paths to these aerial assets would be guarded by SAM units and point defense interceptors.


Thus PAF has to deploy its SAMs effectively, while firing HQ-9 missiles at the inbound Su-30MKIs which can disrupt their attack pattern allowing our fighters to fire BVR missiles at them.

Apart from them, PAF also has to deploy dummy AWACS to lure these Flankers, and utilize classified snare traps to destroy them. Below are some non classified snare traps.

SAM TRAPS
SAMs are usefull in disrupting the Su-30MKI’s attack plan. By firing SAMs at these aircraft when they are indulged in combat, can disrupt their attack plan. With the Su-30MKIs in the process of conducting evasive maneuvers under a SAM attack it would be easy for PAF defenders to single them out in aerial combat situation.

F-7PG SNARE TRAPS
With the motorway fully operational, as well as small satellites scattered throughout the country, PAF F-7PGs on cockpit alert, with engines running and A/A Radar switched on stand-by mode. While getting a complete running commentary the pilots would be updated regarding the situational awareness. Under favorable conditions if any intruding Su-30MKI closes in that area at a range less than 20 km, the F-7PGs can then take off and switch on their A/A Radars. This would appear as a sudden blip on the radar scope of the MKIs and would give very less time to react.


Procedure would be simple.
  1. Zoom towards the target at full power
  2. Lock them at max range (which would appear as soon as the A/A radar is switched on)
  3. Fire the IR missiles at regular intervals at the target while deploying flares conducting a barrel roll attack
  4. Disrupt enemy evasive maneuvers by engaging them with guns
A blip on the radar scope of the Su-30MKI would be followed by wailing of the RWR along with MAWS (Missile Approach Warning System). Instinctively the MKI would conduct a break into the approaching missile deploying flares because slowing down the aircraft means instant death. Thus with the crew of the MKI already engaged in surviving the incoming missiles, other defense elements can engage the remaining Flankers without any threat.


CONCLUSION
On papers it may seem easy to down the Su-30MKI, but it requires great courage, cool nerves, and extensive practice to handle the MKI. Those days are gone when you fly in an enemy airspace challenging their best fighter for a duel. PAF fighters have an important job of defending their airspace first and then go for the offensive.


While BVR combat tactics remains the same on both defensive and offensive missions, it is always advised to fly air defense missions, while let the offensive job to be done by long range guided missiles and glide bombs. Since we can enjoy the facilities of our own radar cover, terrain, ground based anti aircraft units and jamming environment, these tools come in handy while taking on against the MKI.


Similarly I have also explained the danger of a WVR in hostile environment, no matter how good a pilot is. IAF Su-30MKIs are excellent dogfighters at their own turf, but in hostile territory when every available resource is against them, they have very bleak chances to get out alive if they opt for close combat or turning dogfights.

Su-30MKI is no doubt a demon in the sky, but that does not mean that it is invincible. The aircraft is operated by humans, and humans can tend to make mistakes. It is the job of PAF pilots to force the IAF pilots to commit mistakes or do anything wrong, so that they can capitalize on it and take out the enemy. It is all a game of tactics, and only that pilot will win who apply the correct tactics at the correct time, keeps his nerves cool, does not panic and is capable of taking timely decisions within split second’s timings.

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