Referring to the aerial combat with Pakistan last week, Attorney General KK Venugopal said that the country needs Rafale to defend itself from Pakistan's F-16s. He also added that two squadrons of Rafale fighter jets are coming to India in flyaway condition and the first one will be in by September, which begs the question: is Rafale really that good?
Manufactured by Dassault Aviation, Rafale jet is a twin-jet fighter aircraft which is able to operate from both an aircraft carrier and a shore base. Whereas, F-16 Fighting Falcon is a fourth generation single-engine supersonic multirole fighter aircraft manufactured by Lockheed Martin. Approximately 3,000 operational F-16s are in service today in 25 countries. So, in a face-off which aircraft will have the advantage? Which aircraft will win the dogfight? Pakistan's F16 or India's Rafale? Let's compare the stats, shall we?
RAFALE : Wingspan - 10.90 m | F-16 : Wingspan - 9.96 m
RAFALE : Length - 15.30 m | F-16 : Length - 15.06 m
RAFALE : Height - 5.30 m | F-16 : Height - 4.88 m
RAFALE : Range - 3,700 km | F-16 : Range - 4,220 km
RAFALE : Max Speed - 2,130 km/h | F-16 : Max Speed- 2,414 km/h
RAFALE : Service Ceiling - 50,000 ft | F-16 : Service Ceiling- 50,000 ft
RAFALE : Rate of Climb - 18,288 metres/m | F-16 : Rate of Climb- 15,240 metres/m
RAFALE : Empty Weight - 10 ton | F-16 : Empty Weight - 9.2 ton
RAFALE : Max Take-off Weight - 24.5 ton | F-16 : Max Take-off Weight - 21.7 ton
RAFALE : Fuel (Internal) - 4.7 ton | F-16 : Fuel (Internal) - 3.1 ton
RAFALE : Fuel (External) - 6.7 ton | F-16 : Fuel (External) - 1.38 ton
RAFALE (Weapons) :
The MICA air-to-air missiles.
The HAMMER (standing for Highly Agile and Maneuverable Munition Extended Range) modular, rocket-boosted air-to-ground precision guided weapon series.
The SCALP long range stand-off missile.
The AM39 EXOCET anti-ship missile.
Laser Guided Bombs.
GIAT 20 internal Canon.
METEOR long-range air-to-air missile.
F-16 (Weapons) :
AIM-9 Sidewinder short-range air-to-air missiles.
AIM-120 AMRAAM medium range air-to-air missiles.
AGM 65 Maverick air-to-ground missiles.
Penguin anti-ship missiles.
Runway Denial Bombs.
Laser Guided Bombs.
Conventional drop bombs including Nuclear bomb
Internal 20 mm M61A1 Vulcan Canon
In a dog-fight, advantage lies with one who targets the enemy first. And Radar helps in doing just that. In F16, Lockheed Martin has integrated technologies derived from the F-22 and F-35 including the Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) APG-83 radar that provides F-16 with 5th generation fighter radar capability. It can detect enemies in a range of 120 kms. Its maximum engagement range is 20 targets at 84 kms.
Rafale on the other hand is fitted with 4 key technologies:
1] A multi-directional radar which can detect 40 targets at the same time in a range of over 100 kms.
2] An undetectable passive radar sensor which is an extremely precise optical camera.
3] Recognisance pod: a massive digital camera which can take photos at any speed with a precision of 10 cms.
4] And finally, Spectra, an integrated defence aid system which can jam or counter-jam enemy radar signals, give missile-approach warnings and send out decoy signals in case an enemy missile gets too close to the Rafale.
Decoy signal is an electromagnetic pulse sent from the rear of the plane which de-roots enemy missile.
So, clearly, it's a tough fight between Rafale and F-16. And predicting a clear winner is a bit difficult. Victory depends also on the pilot's skills. So, who do you think will win the battle? Let the facts decide.