No sooner had the first batch of 5 Rafale fighter jets landed in India; the Pakistan official machinery went into an overdrive of crying wolf. The Pakistan Foreign Office urged the global community to deter India from continuing its disproportionate arms build-up, as it could lead to an arms race in South Asia. This assumption is preposterous and at best laughable!
Pakistan is rattled by India acquiring the Rafle, 36 of which are to be inducted into the Indian Air Force. The acquiring the 4++ generation, nuclear-capable Rafale jets, has unnerved many countries in India’s immediate neighbourhood.
The Pakistan’s allegations of arms build-up by India is not correct and shows Islamabad’s immaturity. India is modernising her armed forces. As a sovereign nation, it has every right to. However, what has changed the matrix, is the Rafale jets’ superiority over the F-16s of Pakistan Air Force. The Rafale is the ultra-modern fighter aircraft, which has huge technical supremacy. The Pakistani F-16s were given by the US are of older design. The early-modelF-16s have AIM-120A/B AMRAMM (advanced medium range air to air missile) with a range of up to 75 kilometres. But in 2010, Pakistan received a batch of the AIM-120C-5, with a range of 100 kilometres.
However, the 4++ generation Rafale jet loaded with the deadlier BVRAAM (Beyond Visual Range Air to Air Missile) ‘Meteor’, suddenly Pakistani jets including the F-16s loaded with AMRAAM comes under direct threat. Others jets of Pakistan Air Force including the much-hyped JF-17 would be highly vulnerable to the Rafales.
The Meteor missile is produced by MBDA and is a game-changer for the IAF. Even the stealth, fifth-generation F-35s that the UK’s Royal Air Force is operating is equipped with Meteor missiles.
It is an active radar-guided beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM) and is powered by a propulsion system and uses GmbH’s solid fuel, variable flow, ducted rocket system, also called ramjet. The Ramjet propulsion system gives Meteor the ability to throttle its engine (control engine power) during the various stages of its flight towards its target. The propulsion system in a standard air-to-air missile does not give this option.
This capability gives Meteor the largest ‘no-escape zone’ — the area within which the target can’t kinetically avoid being hit or the kill probability is very high. The meteor has an extended range of 120kms (against 100 km of AMRAAMs) which allows it to excel at hunting and destroying threats at over long distances even under severe weather conditions.
According to defence experts, it is not just the Rafale jet that has stoked fear in Islamabad, but also its lethal armoury. The Meteor missile outclasses the AMRAAM and puts the F-16s under a direct threat. For decades, Islamabad boasted about the superiority of the F-16, but the IAF’s Rafales have now taken it away.
India being a responsible global power, has never flaunted its military might. But, deterrence in the current times is of particular essence. India’s defence spending is only 1.5% of its GDP (2020-’21 figures); whereas, Pakistan spent 4% of its GDP on defence alone in 2018-’19. For a country like Pakistan; that is sooner than later seeking bailout packages, this is a huge sum. India spends almost 7% of her GDP on social sector, Pakistan spends only about 3% on the important social sector. During the COVID-19 pandemic India announced relief packages worth 10% of its GDP (Rs. 20 lakh crore). Pakistan’s COVID-19 relief package was termed totally insufficient by the country’s experts as well as common people.
Meanwhile, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan who is always sermonising India; is back to politicking. He plans to visit Muzaffarabad, in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) to show ‘solidarity’ with the people of PoK. The ISI, which nurtures terror groups, especially directed at India is drawing up a detailed itinerary for the visit. Mr. Khan is tentatively scheduled to address the illegal PoK Assembly. Reportedly, Pakistan government would also be conducting a field trip for foreign journalists to PoK. However, the ISI terror training camps would be, as usual, off-limits.
Script: Kaushik Roy; AIR News Analyst