Can the PAF JF-17 Thunder beat the IAF Mirage 2000-5 Mk. 2 in a dogfight?

The scene is based on an aerial engagement between Indian Mirage 2000 and Pakistani JF 17 “Thunder”.In case of a dogfight between the two, I am going to analyse the following factors:

• Scenario analysis

• Armament analysis

• Performance analysis

Except the Scenario, the factors are completely based on facts and information available on public domain. We are not revealing any high profile detail to civilians so please don’t sue us for that.

1> Scenario

Let’s say that one more terrorist attack occurred in India. This time, India decided to attack Pakistan instead of any counter-terrorism operation. An Air Strike is planned on the nearby PAF Baseand GoI approved to launch the operation. Indian Air Force planned to enter Baltistan and bomb the PAF Base Skardu. It is rumoured that PAF has deployed a JF-17 squadron there. Few sources claiming the “Black Spiders” squadron is currently active in the region.

It is a Forward Operating Base (FOB). FOB provides support to military in case of any military operations or conflicts. FOBs are also heavily guarded with troops.

Pakistan started heavy preparedness drill to tighten security against Indian action. Regular Combat Air Patrol (CAP) of JF-17s and F-16. Karakoram Eagle and Erieye AEW&C for regular surveillance.

More factors affect the scenario like presence of SAMs or No. of jets involved etc. Here, I only tried to compare the characteristics with equal competition like No SAMs and equal no. of jets involved. Plus no AWACS support.

2> Armament

Mirage 2000 chosen as the trustworthy aircraft for the operation. Let’s say 4 Mirage 2000I aircrafts are going to commence the operation. 2 for bombing and rest 2 for cover. Meaning 2 of the attack package will be armed with Laser Guided air-to-ground weapons like Griffin or SPICE 2000. Or other configuration can be of standoff weapons like Popeye. Rest 2 are in complete air-to-air engagement configuration. Armed with both MICA RF that is suitable for medium range or Beyond Visual Range and MICA IR for Within Visual Range.

Pakistan Air Force, with alertness against possible Indian action, flew regular combat air patrols. Jets are loaded with both BVRAAM and WVRAAM. Jf 17 is performing patrol with its armament of PL 12 as a Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile and PL 5E as Within Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile.

Now the Mirages entered Baltistan and proceeding to Objective. Skardu picked up signals and scrambled JF-17s that were in Intercept configuration. 2x PL-12 BVRAAM and 2× PL-5E WVRAAM and 3× Fuel Tanks. (7 hardpoints of JF 17)

Mirage 2000 are in air-to-air engagement configuration and carrying 4x MICA RF, 2x MICA IR and 2x Fuel Tanks. (8+1 hardpoints of Mirage 2000)


JF 17 radar and Mirage radar started tracking each other. Strike (bombing role) Mirages descended to low altitude to avoid any engagement. Aggressor (Air-to-airoffense role) Mirages decided to engage JF-17s.

PL-12 vs Mica RF

•PL-12 (aka SD-10) is a Chinese development but carries similar technology of R77 with little indigenous modifications that can be noticed in the shape and propulsion system. It is primarily used by the fleet of JF-17 Block II aircrafts. Very few information is available on the internet but after researching about the missile, I came to know that this missile can only engage the targets under the range of 70-75km and has a speed of Mach 3.5–4. Enough for BVR engagements against potential threats.

MICA RF is the BVRAAM used by Mirage 2000 fleet of Indian Air Force. It is the active radar guidance variant of MICA missile family. MICA is one of the renowned weapon for Europe with state-of-the-art capability. It is widely adopted by various other Air Forces around the world. Maritime Rafale are usually spotted with MICA missiles during sorties. It is capable of operating in “lock-on before launch” and “lock-on after launch” modes. A Thrust Vector Control (TVC) system fitted to the rocket motor gives a significant boost to the missile’s agility. In case of range, it has an advantage over PL-12. It can engage targets under the range of 80-85 kms with a speed of Mach

Speed, Range, Agility, in all three factors, MICA RF has a significant edge over the Chinese counterpart and hence, I believe that JF 17 can’t withstand in front of Mirage 2000 in BVR engagement. Both JF 17s will be shot down if they come under Mirages’ radar.


Let’s say somehow all 4 Mirage 2000 managed to keep a low profile and flied really low to avoid SAMs. In this case, WVR engagement is possible if JF 17 made a Visual Contact. Aggressor Mirages turned to engage while Strike Mirages are still on the course.


PL-5E is primarly used by Pakistan Air Force JF-17 and F-7PG. It is said to be a reverse engineered AIM-9 featuring AA-10 technology. It carries a 6kg warhead with laser proximity fuse detonation system. It has a speed upto Mach 2.5 and can engage targets under the range of 18 kms. PL-5E features a double delta canards, a 40 degree off boresight capability, and 40G manoeuvre capability .

MICA IR is primarly deployed on IAF Mirage 2000. The Solid-propellant rocket motor provides a max speed of Mach 4. MICA IR works on Imaging Infrared guidance system giving it an effective precision. MICA IR is also guided by Imaging Infrared system that can interpret the different parts of a target aircraft and hit the most appropriate section. Imaging Infrared guided missiles are also very hard to fool with hot flares and much more precise than standard heat-seeker (infra-red) missiles, therefore, MICA IR is more accurate and trustworthy than PL-5E in any close range dogfights. A thrust vector control unit fitted to the rocket motor furtherincreases the missile’s agility. The missile is capable of Lock-On After Launch (LOAL) which means it is capable of engaging targets even when outside its seeker’s at-launch acquisition range.

Hence, a clear winner here is MICA IR! The JF-17 PL-9 will be outgunned and Mirage 2000 will surely rise as a winner.

Therefore, one can easily conclude that Mirage 2000 is all-time capable to engage JF 17 with dominant side.

3> Performance of jets

Armament is not the only key to win battles and that’s why there is a term called agility. Before that, let’s talk about radars. Mirage 2000 features French RDY-2 Pulse Doppler radar that owns a maximum range of 110 km in air-to-air mode. The radar can detect 24 targets, track 8 of them and engage 4 targets at a time.

JF 17 features a Chinese radar, that is KLJ-7V2 Pulse Doppler. The radar can reportedly track 10 targets and engage 2 of them at a time under the range of 120–125 kms.

Mirage 2000 has a redundant Fly-By-Wire Automatic Flight Control System (FBW AFCS), providing electronic smarts to compensate for the aircraft’s inherent instability, two-piece elevons on each wing; and automatic, full length, two-segment leading-edge slats. That gave the Mirage 2000 a high level of agility.

All-metal stable aerodynamic structure of the airframe that causes RCS of 5m2 that is not much high but also not much low. It can be detected by radars of hostile. Also the maneuverability of the jet is questionable when compared to other aircrafts in the same league. Lack of Helmet Mounted Display and Sight system also causes trouble when it comes to precise targetting during combat

Mirage 2000I also features indigenous Samtel-Thales TopSight-I Helmet Mounted Display and Sight (HMDS). Refer the 2 pictures below:

All this combines to give Mirage 2000 an edge over JF 17 even in Performance.

After both armament and performance comparison, we can conclude that Mirage 2000 can easily shoot down JF-17 in air combat. But it is all upto the pilot. A skilled pilot has more chances to score a kill than an amateur pilot. But by going through the stats, we can say that IAF Mirage 2000 is better and JF-17 can’t defeat it.

Better luck next time JF 17

(Scene from Sherdil movie)


Source:- Rishav Quora

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