Tensions between Beijing and New Delhi at the “roof of the world” show no signs of cooling. While India brought the Su-30 MKI to the border, China confidently stated that no J-20 is needed, just J-11 is enough to deal with the Indian air force.
The Indian Air Force has long been actively strengthening its equipment, in addition to creating a strong pressure on Pakistan, India also needs to balance its power with another neighbor, China.
Since the beginning of the 21st century, the Indian Air Force’s power heavily relies on Su-30MKI imported from Russia. These are heavy fighters, currently the backbone of the Indian air force. India currently maintains 300 Su-30 MKI. For more than ten years, the Indian Air Force has remained stationary.
To increase its potential, the Indian Air Force decided to order 36 French 4 ++ generation Rafale fighters. This is the fighter is rated as the most powerful, of the non-stealth aircraft currently.
Rafale is equipped with many weapons systems, especially the electronic warfare. It has actually fought in a number of local wars. India decided to buy this type of aircraft as a mainstay fighter in the future.
Compared to the Indian Air Force, the Chinese Air Force has more modern fighters. Currently the main types of Chinese Air Force jets are J-10, J-11, J-16 and a handful of J-20 fifth-generation stealth fighters. Chinese 4th generation aircraft are also at the advanced level of the world.
J-11 fighter jet is a Chinese heavy fighter. This is the Soviet Su-27 clone. However, China has many improvements, especially in avionics. Although the appearance of J-16 and J-20 fighters has made it overshadowed, the operational level of J-11 is still at the advanced level of the world.
If assumed in a Sino-Indian conflict, Chinese J-11Bs would have tactical capabilities comparable to those of the Indian Air Force Rafale. Even compared to size and weight, the J-11 is much bigger than the Rafale.
The wingspan of J-11 is 14.7 m, overall length is 21.9 m, height is 5.9 m, normal load is 8 tons. While the Rafale only has a wingspan of 10.8 m, a length of 15.2 m, a height of 5.3 m, and a weapon load of 6 tons.
In comparison, it is clear that the J-11 could be integrated with more electronic systems and weapons. But the advantage of Rafale is that the transverse radar cross section is smaller than the J-11.
In terms of power, the J-11 is equipped with two Russian-made AN31 jet engines (or Chinese-made WS10), with a thrust of about 180 kilonewtons (kN). J-11 can reach a maximum speed of Mach 2.35, a service ceiling of 18,500 m, a maximum range of 3,790 km. For Rafale, the two engines only reach 100 kN thrust, the maximum speed can only reach Mach 1.8, the service ceiling is 16,800 m, the maximum range is 3,700 km.
Although the J-11 was heavier, its maneuverability was overwhelming compared to the Rafale. With high maneuverability, it is clear that the J-11 has a clear advantage in close combat. Higher speed and altitude, also provide greater kinetic energy for fighting off-sighted targets.
Regarding the radar, since the J-11 has a larger volume, China replaced the original mechanical radar with its own active electronically scanned array radar. Therefore, Rafale’s electronic warfare advantage over the J-11 is not overwhelming. Although the radar parameters are confidential, the radars equipped on the two aircraft are capable of tracking targets within about 280 km.
Rafale is equipped with an air-to-air, all weather, fire-and-forget missile, the Mica, with a maximum range of about 300 km. Meanwhile, J-11 is equipped with PL-15 missile with a maximum range of about 150-200 km. Technically, the Mica missile uses a ramjet engine, which is why its range is so great.
The PL-15 uses a dual-pulse solid rocket engine. Although the range is not equal to the Mica, but in short and medium range, the missile will promote its features. In general, the features of these two types of air-to-air missiles are similar.
Therefore, if an aerial conflict occurs, even if India uses newly imported Rafale, the Chinese Air Force is confident that it does not need to send J-20 stealth fighters to battle. The Chinese believe that just using J-11 fighters can win the Indian Air Force.