How Pakistan’s F-16s “clacked cleaned” in a real-life situation resembling a war.

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Let’s fast-forward to 2019, when “Operation Swift Retort” saw two Su-30MKIs engage eight F-16 fighters from the Pakistan Air Force in a heated air battle over Jammu and Kashmir. The only objective for the F-16s was to down at least one Flanker, the emblematic centrepiece of the Indian Air Force (IAF). They had grossly overestimated its skills, they didn’t realise.

During Operation Swift Retort, on February 27, 2019, the Su-30MKIs, code-named “Avenger,” stood watch on Indian sites from 0950 until 1015 hours. Experienced Air Force pilot Sameer Joshi claimed that the F-16s’ top targets were the Su-30MKIs. The PAF thought that taking out a Sukhoi would place the IAF in a vulnerable position.

According to evidence, the PAF launched more than four AMRAAMs on the Sukhois during this engagement, Joshi tweeted. Less is known about the MKIs’ retaliation strategy.

He described how a squadron of F-16s attempted to engage the Su-30MKI fighters with three Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAMs), but none of them succeeded in doing so. As the sole aircraft in Pakistan’s fleet with such armament, the IAF supplied the debris of the AMRAAM to support this assertion. This demonstrated that Islamabad had used the F-16.

Joshi described the two Su-30MKI jets’ retaliation in detail. The Sukhoi fighters “counterattacked ignoring the high-density BVR [beyond-visual-range] threat from the F-16s,” using maps to locate the aircraft. One of the Sukhoi jets even managed to avoid a fourth AMRAAM, he revealed.

The analyst claimed that after the counterattack by the Su-30MKIs, 10 of the F-16s’ 12 munitions missed their intended objectives. Could these payloads have been dumped outside of the envelope they were designed for? Was the PAF moving quickly because the Avenger formation was charging the LoC? Joshi reflected.

Although the Sukhoi is a superior aircraft over the F-16, this is not about a specific aircraft. It discusses how to make the most of the total infrastructure, including the command and control systems, the radar on the ground and in the air, the technical team on the ground, and the radar. This is where cohesion triumphs over solely relying on cutting-edge technology.

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