Indian defence experts are of the opinion that The People’s Liberation Army Air Force J-20 stealth fighter is nowhere close to the recently inducted, brand new French Dassault Rafale fighter jets.
Rafale’s advanced electronic warfare suite, METEOR, SCALP missile systems with sophisticated tracking and detection capabilities can neutralize any assault. The biggest threat is China’s surface-to-air missiles.
Indian defence analysts stated India has deployed the first five Rafales to the Ladakh area in the Himalayas, following border disputes last month. The Indian Air Force is slated to receive 36 more Rafales by 2021.
The People’s Liberation Army Air Force of China has invested heavily in avant-garde technology, fighter jets and warships for their defence forces.
China said that the Dassault Rafale is only a 3.5 generation fighter because of its limited stealth technology. The fourth-generation J-20 employs superior, futuristic stealth technology.
The Rafale claims marginally better performance than Indian Air Force Russian Sukhoi Su-30 MKI fighters in combat. The fighter jet uses AESA radar, extremely evolved weapons systems and reduced radar cross-section to provide moderate stealth adeptness to avoid radar / infra-red detection.
The US Air Force F-35 has the advantage of superordinate stealth technology, nevertheless, the Rafale’s exceptional power-to-weight ratio and twin – Snecma M88 engines empower the canard delta wing aircraft with ultra-manoeuvrability, and provide for sustained “supercruise” (supersonic speeds) with high fuel efficiency.
The Rafale’s METEOR ramjet, precision-guided air-to-air weapons system in conjunction with AESA radar offer a range of 50 miles to detect and neutralize threats at long range.
Much less is known about the J-20 stealth fighter, apart from its exterior dimensions and resemblance to US and Russian stealth fighters. The J-20s PL-15, radar-controlled, long-range (124 miles) air-to-air missile gives the stealth aircraft an advantage over the Rafales.
The only deficiency of the Chengdu J-20 is the low powered Russian AL-31 engines. In response, China has attempted to develop more powerful, domestically produced WS-15 engine for the formidable J-20B.
The question of which is a better fighter, the Rafale or the J-20 is difficult to answer because they have never been tested in a battle environment. Stealth, radar and weapons systems strengths and weaknesses have yet to be revealed.
Indian defence analysts say the Rafale jets missile systems give the Indian Air Force a combat edge against their adversaries.
The newly inducted Rafale jets in the Indian Air Force will also serve to provide defence against Pakistan. Retaliation efforts by the Pakistan Air Force are expected to reduce. India has been keen on rapid deployment of Rafale jets following border conflicts between Indian and Chinese troops in Easter Ladakh.
In 2018, India signed a deal with Russia to acquire S-400 missiles, which are comparable to the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense System (THAAD) of the US military, ranked as the best defence system in the world.
S-400 missile weapons systems offer a combat advantage in the region. Defence experts around the world have often reiterated that efficient deterrence can be achieved with superior technology to maintain peace.