Hello defence lovers! Almost two years ago, the Indian Airforce executed the Balakot airstrikes in response to the Pulwama terror attack. Since then the capabilities of the Indian Airforce has changed a lot. In this article, we would try to figure out how the Balakot airstrikes would look like if they occurred in 2021 instead of 2019.
The Mission Profile Of Balakot Airstrikes
The mission profile of Balakot airstrikes required the aircraft to be stealthy, highly maneuverable, and agile. These aircraft were supposed to enter the enemy territories, drop the bombs on the targets and get out of there as soon as possible. At that time the Dassault Mirage 2000s were the best aircraft for the mission as Mirage 2000s had very small Radar Cross Section, were highly maneuverable due to their delta wing design, and could fire a wide variety of precision guided ammunition which was required to reduce the collateral damage.
Options For Balakot Airstrikes In 2021
In 2019 the Indian Airforce had only two reliable options which are the French made Mirage 2000s and the Russian Su-30MKI. The Su 30 MKIs were not suitable due to their enormous RCS. Now Indian Airforce has two more option. which are Dassault Rafale and Tejas.
Although plenty of other options are there like missile strikes. But using the missiles launched from Indian soil to hit the targets in Pakistan won’t give the same message that a fighter jet bombing the targets on Pakistani soil would give. Killing the enemies in their own home would instill fear in them and they would refrain from doing such misadventure in future.
Definitely, the best option for the missions like Balakot Airstrikes is the Dassault Rafale which is the most advance aircraft in the IAF’s inventory. Though inducted in very small numbers, it increases the capabilities of IAF my many folds. let us understand how.
Radar Cross Section
Rafale has very low RCS. It is somewhere around 1.2 m2. However, according to Thales, the SPECTRA EW suite onboard rafale reduces the RCS further up to 0.06m2. For comparison, the RCS of F 35 is 0.01 m2 and Su 30 MKI is somewhere around 3 m2. It is not known exactly how this feature of SPECTRA works. But according to some experts, Spectra emits the same frequency of waves but in the opposite phase to feed the enemy radar. Due to destructive interference, the reflected radar waves disappear. But there is no information on the public domain whether this feature is operational or not. Rafale is best suited for these hit and run missions for its stealthier profile.
The Indian Rafales are equipped with precision-guided ammunitions like SCALP cruise missile and HAMMER bombs. SCALP is an air-launched cruise missile that has a maximum range of 560km and can cruise with a speech of 0.8 Mach at a flight altitude of 30-40 meters above the ground. The standoff range of SCALP is enough to launch it from the Indian territory and hitting targets its Pakistan. Rafales are also equipped with hybrid guided bombs like Hammer. It stands for Highly Agile Modular Munition Extended Range.
HAMMER is power by a solid rocket motor and is guided by multiple guidance systems which include inertial navigation systems, GPS guidance and in some versions Infrared/Laser guidance systems. In the future Spice 2000 kits will be made compatible with Indian Rafales.
Rafale are also equipped with Meteor BVR missiles which are till now the best BVR missiles in the world. Had Rafale been in Combat air patrol on 27th February, IAF would have killed multiple F-16s and 10th generation JF-17s.
Tejas is another potent platform suitable for missions like Balakot Airstrikes. Tejas is way more advance than the French Mirage 2000s. It is small, agile and can fire a variety of weapons. Tejas also uses large quantities of composite materials which reduces its RCS to a significant extent. Tejas can fire various types of bombs which include Laser-guided bombs like Sudarshan, DRDO glide bombs, DRDO SAAW etc. In the future Spice 2000 kits will be also integrated on Tejas. Apart from these bombs, Tejas is also being equipped with Astra BVR missiles which would have provided it with an edge over Pakistani AIM-120c BVR missiles in scenarios 27 Feb dogfight.
IAF’s all aircraft are being equipped with software-defined radios to prevent the radios from being jammed by the enemy. Wing Commander Abhinandan’s radio was jammed by the Pakistanis. As a result, he couldn’t get the order to return back. Software-defined radios will eliminate possibilities like that.
Let’s end the article on a positive note that the enemy has learned a lesson from the Balakot airstrikes and it would refrain from doing such misadventures. We hope that the need for another Balakot Airstrikes never arises again.