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Information attacks on Russia-India arms trade intensify - part 1

Information attacks on Russian-Indian military cooperation are intensifying proportionally to its expansion. Russian media have recently reprinted an Indian report which doubted the combat capabilities of the Russian Su-30MKI fighter jet against the French Dassault Rafale, the Zvezda weekly writes.

Information attacks on Russia India arms trade intensify part 1 IAF Su-30MKI (Picture source: 1st Lt. George Tobias)

The Indian Economic Times explained why New Delhi acquired Rafale instead of Su-30MKI. It said the loitering capability of the French aircraft exceeds the indicator of Su-30MKI 1.5 times. Besides, it said Rafale has a combat radius of 780 - 1050 km while Su-30MKI has 400-550 km. The French fighter jet can make five sorties a day and the Russian one - three. The Economic Times admitted that Rafale is much more expensive than Su-30MKI.

There is a fierce competition on the attractive Indian arms market, including combat aircraft. Various publications reflect the struggle. The interested parties resort to any technique, including dishonest claims and falsification against competitors. Therefore, such contracted publications should be ignored in principle.

However, as Russian media reprinted the report with groundless claims, it needs a response.

The criticism also targets the Russian reader in order to cause doubts about the capabilities of the national armed forces. The clear foreign misinformation has nothing in common with reality.

One does not have to be an expert to understand that the claims to the Russian fighter jet have been invented. The Economic Times alleged Rafale has a range of 780-1050 km and Su-30MKI - 400-550 km.

The official websites of Sukhoi and Rosoboronexport say the maximum Su-30MKI range with maximum fuel and four air-to-air missiles is 1270 km at the ground and 3000 km in cruising flight. One air refueling increases it to 5200 km. Open sources said the combat radius is 1500 km.

Open sources give different data on Dassault Rafale than the Economic Times provided. Its range with three suspended fuel tanks is close to 3700 km and the combat radius may reach 1850 km. The distance is ensured by two 2300-liter conformal fuel tanks and three suspended tanks of 5700 liters. Rafale can carry six air-to-air missiles. Open sources said precision air-to-surface weapons decrease the radius to 1465 km.

The characteristics of Su-30 are provided without suspended fuel tanks, as they are not installed. Su-30MKI has only conformal tanks, as suspended ones increase the cross section and radar signature. Such tanks considerably decrease the flight characteristics.

The maximum fuel reserve in Su-30 internal tanks is 9640 liters (other data said 9720 liters). Rafale can carry 4700 liters in internal tanks. Thus, Su-30MKI operates without suspended tanks and has better chances in air combat and against air defense. Both jets can refuel in the air.

Information attacks on Russian-Indian military cooperation are intensifying proportionally to its expansion. Russian media have recently reprinted an Indian report which doubted the combat capabilities of the Russian Su-30MKI fighter jet against the French Dassault Rafale, the Zvezda weekly writes.

A bigger cross section and the absence of an active phased antenna array are a likely disadvantage of Su-30 in a clash with Rafale. However, it is on a par due to total combat characteristics. The drawbacks will hardly affect the outcome of Su-30MKI - Rafale duel, as the French jet is armed with medium-range MICA air-to-air guided missiles. The MICA-IR modification has an infrared homing warhead and MICA-RF - an active radar homing warhead. The missiles have a gas-ejection thrust vector control to maneuver with over 50G overload. But there is also a drawback. The destruction range in the front hemisphere is only 60-65 kilometers. Longer-range Meteor missiles have been supplied of late with radar homing warheads and a ramjet capable of hitting targets at a distance of over a hundred kilometers.

Su-30SM in Russia are armed with R-77-1 (item 170-1) guided missiles with a range of 110 km. Su-30MKI of the Indian Air Force are armed with missiles of the R-77 family.

The situation will deteriorate for the French fighter if Su-30 is equipped with SAP-518SM container jammers. The passive electronic reconnaissance station determines the frequency band of adversary aircraft and SAP-518SM begins to jam and decreases the coverage zone of radars with an active phased antenna array 2-3 times. Representatives of the Indian Air Force said Su-30MKI would be shortly upgraded to increase combat capabilities and their electronic warfare would be developed.

The Indian Su-30MKI regularly participate in training combat against NATO aircraft. In 2015, a duel between a British Typhoon and an Indian Su-30MKI was held at an international exercise in the UK. The media said Su-30MKI displayed better maneuverability and poses a major threat if properly operated.

The claim that Rafale can fly 1.5 times longer than Su-30MKI is strange. Su-30 can fly ten hours with air refueling. The limitations depend only on the physiological capabilities of the pilot. It is clear that Rafale with its air refueling capability faces the same limitations.

The same concerns the claim that Rafale can make 5 sorties against 3 of Su-30. It is unclear how the publication arrived to the conclusion. Russian Su-30SM and French Rafale participated in counterterrorist operations in Syria and Iraq. Combat sorties can have various duration and intensity depending on the mission.

There is one thing to agree and it is the price of the fighter jets which is not in favor of Rafale. It costs India two times more than the Russian fighter jet. It is not a bonus for bigger capabilities, as Su-30MKI is on a par with Rafale in flight and technical characteristics. So there is no reason for Russian media to copy foreign speculations on the issue, the Zvezda said.

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