Indian journalist Shekhar Gupta in his column in Hindustan Times admitted that Indian Air Force (IAF)’s best fighting jets—MiG-21, which is the backbone of the air force were “outranged and outgunned” by Pakistan Air Force (PAF) on February 27.
In his piece, he wrote that whether the Rafale deal is a scam or the best thing for India’s defence is for more eminent people to debate. Let me, meanwhile, list four facts emerging from the February 26-27 air skirmishes to bring the story of what should be called the real Rafale scandal.
*In the Rajouri-Mendhar sector air skirmish a day after the Indian Air Force’s “Balakot strikes”, the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) was able to create surprise and local superiority — technological and numerical — in a chosen battlefield. It struck in daylight when least expected, and perfectly timed to attack the changeover of IAF AWAC patrols. The outnumbered IAF pilots (12 aircraft of three vastly different types), scrambled from various bases and showed the presence of mind not to walk into the ambush set for them, but they failed to deliver a deterrent punishment on PAF.
“Four Sukhoi-30s, the IAF’s most powerful air-superiority aircraft, were involved in the melee at beyond visual range (BVR). They were surprised by the PAF F-16s firing their American AMRAAM missiles from so far that their own radar/computer/missiles were not able to give them a “firing solution”. Translated: India’s best fighter, which constitutes half of the IAF’s combat force, was outranged and outgunned,” Gupta wrote.
It is important to mention here that Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Major General Asif Ghafoor clearly stated that Pakistan Air Force (PAF) did not use F-16s in the dogfight with India. “PAF used JF-17 Thunder in the air conflict on February 27,” Ghafoor stated.
Meanwhile, Gupta further wrote that surprised, and outnumbered, the IAF scrambled six MiG-21 Bisons from Srinagar and Awantipur. Since these climbed in the shadow of the Pir Panjal range, the PAF AWAC failed to detect them. Their sudden appearance at the battlefield upset the PAF plan. This was fortuitous. .