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Chinese Su-35 v/s. Indian Rafale:- Why Su-35 wouldn’t pose any serious threat to Indian Airforce

In 2015 China and Russia signed a deal for the purchase of the advanced multirole fighter Su-35 from the latter.Beijing has so far received 14 Russian Sukhoi Su-35 multipurpose fighter jets, Russian state corporation The $2.5bn contract for the delivery of a total of 24 long-range 4++ generation super-maneuverable aircraft was signed between Rostec and the Chinese government in November 2015. Four Su-35s were previously delivered to China in 2016, and 10 more were shipped in 2017.Beijing will receive 10 more fighter jets this year, as was earlier defined in the contract,


The Dassault Rafale is a French twin-engine, canard delta wing, multirole fighter aircraft designed and built by Dassault Aviation. Equipped with a wide range of weapons, the Rafale is intended to perform air supremacy, interdiction, aerial reconnaissance, ground support, in-depth strike, anti-ship strike and nuclear deterrence missions. The Rafale is referred to as an “omnirole” aircraft by Dassault.

Dassault Rafale is fitted with a RBE2-AA radar system which is an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar system derived from the Rafale’s RBE2 radar. The radar is reported to deliver a greater detection range of 200 km, improved reliability and reduced maintenance demands over the preceding radar. Active electronic scanning makes it possible to switch radar modes quickly, thereby enabling operational functions to run simultaneously.

Rafale has ground breaking EW Suite in form of SPECTRA system which carries out reliable long-range detection, identification and localization of threats, allowing the pilot to instantly select the most effective defensive measures based on combinations of radar jamming, infrared or radar decoying and evasive maneuvers. SPECTRA gives Rafale firing solution with 1* precision at 200 km.The outstanding capability of SPECTRA regarding airborne threat localization is one of the keys of the RAFALE’s superior situational awareness. SPECTRA now include a new generation missile warning system that offers increased detection performance against the latest threats.

Rafale incorporates a sleek design and stealthy intakes to reduce RCS. Dassault claims to have built the airframe with over 70% of it been composites.

METEOR factor: What really sets Rafale a class apart is the induction of MBDA BVRAAM METEOR. With operational range >100km ( 60km-no escape zone), it is a radar seeking missile capable of hitting its enemy even before it realizes it has been targeted.

MICA IR bvraam is one of the longest range IR guided missile till date now though Russian R 73 missile is very good missile but it lacks range of Mica IR which is more critical

Maneuverability: Its unstable delta wing configuration allows for better controls and gives the aircraft high agility during close encounters with the aid of the canards. A new engine M-88-3D with TVC capability is under development.

Chinese Su-35

The Sukhoi Su-35 is a designation for two separate, heavily upgraded derivatives of the Su-27 aircraft. They are single-seat, twin-engine, supermaneuverable multirole fighters, designed by Sukhoi and built by Komsomolsk-on-Amur Aircraft Production Association (KnAAPO)

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The Su-35 is powered by a pair of Saturn AL-41F1S, formerly known as izdeliye (Product) 117S, turbofan engines. While based on the AL-31F engine of the Su-27M, it shares some of the core design of Su-57’s more-powerful Saturn AL-41F1.The aircraft is equipped with thrust-vectoring nozzles, which has their rotational axes canted at an angle, similar to the configuration on the Su-30MKI and Su-57. The engine gives the Su-35 the limited ability to sustain supersonic speed without the use of afterburners.According to Carlo Kopp of the think tank Air Power Australia, such a “supercruise” feature allows the Su-35 to engage an opponent at a greater speed and altitude and increases the range of its long-range missiles by 30–40 percent.

The Sukhoi Su-35 – the top Russian air-superiority fighter jet – uses fifth-generation technology and is distinguished by high maneuverability and advanced electronics. Its radar with a phased array antenna makes it possible for the Su-35 to detect targets at long range, allowing it to simultaneously hit multiple targets.

Sukhoi Su-35s are armed with an internal 30mm cannon and have 12 hardpoints with a combined capacity of 8,000kg, compatible with a wide range of unguided and guided missiles and bombs. It can reach a maximum speed of 2,500kph, with a range of 3,400km, and a combat radius of around 1,600km.

Su-35’s uses Irbis E radar can detect a target with RCS of 3 m^2 from 350 km maximum. It can track 30 targets & engage 8 at a time.


RAFALE v/s SU-35

Su-35 is bigger and heavier. It also has more powerful engines. It can carry some large missiles, like the antiship BrahMos and Kh-41 Moskit. It is arguably more agile than Rafale, and therefore better suited for dogfights (the relevance of dogfights is open to debate though). It can carry a heavy payload for attack missions, but in general terms Russian weapons and sensors for ground attack still are behind the western finest.

Rafale has a better sensors suite, and is integrated to better ground attack weapons. It’s stealthier than Su-35, but arguably also costlier to obtain and operate.

The Su-35 is a predominantly Air Interdiction/ Air Superiority Fighter.. Although it can also undertake ground missions, it will be a very over performing asset for a ground missions. It will be very effective to shoot invading aircraft out of the sky. But for ground attack missions, its cost of operating per flight hour will be expensive compared to that of the Rafale. Also, India already operates 272 Su-30MKI which is similar in performance capabilities to the Su-35…. The Rafale is easier to maintain, it has a lower RCS compared to the Su-35 which means it can undertake Hi-Lo-Hi missions. The comparable aircraft in Ground attack capabilities to that of the Rafale would be the Su-34…

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India already operates the High End Sukhois and is also going to induct the Light Spectrum LCAs… It needs to fill in the intermediate role for a combat aircraft which has both Air-to-Air and Air-to-Ground capabilities….  The Rafale is the best aircraft in this unique category and it beats all of its competitors by a comfortable margin.

The Rafale has low-wing loading capability when compared with the Su-35 and even with Typhoon, this results in good turn performance; as low wing loading results in high gust sensitivity and is thus undesirable for strike aircraft. Very low wing loading makes them obvious to be optimized for air superiority.

Su-35’s large size and high weight results in inferior maneuverability in air combat when compared to Rafale. Although Su-35 is equipped with TVC, it will not make it more maneuverable than Rafale

In BVR: The Russian Irbis-E has a higher scan range than the Rafale’s RBE-2AA even though the former is PESA. It can track a fully loaded Rafale from distances more than 200km and Rafale won’t be even aware of it. The Rafale’s RCS reduction won’t be much of a use due to Sukhoi’s L-band antennas built into the wing’s leading edges and rudders which can pick up faint echoes of enemy aircraft’s radar signature.

The R-77 and METEOR missiles are nearly comparable in ranges but METEOR has a higher kinetic range and resistance to counter measures. However, R-77 has a lower radar signature than METEOR due to its grid fins and is lighter too. Add in the K-77 missile, under development, which could purportedly have range higher than 200km, intended for the Su-57 fighter. Su-35 is capable of firing the missile, and if inducted into active service could be the end of the line for other frontline western jets.

Serviceability and Maintenance: This is the area where European standards triumph over Russian engineering. The average cost per hour of flight is 28000USD for Rafale and 36000USD for Su-35.

The availability of Rafale is above 65% while that of Su-35s are in the 50s. This is evident in the case of IAF’s Su-30MKis which are notorious for their poor availability.

Another key aspect is the lack of spare parts from its manufacturers causing entire squadrons useless. The Europeans however are very critical in providing maintenance and future supports.

Medium-Close Range combat: The SU-35 is definitely more agile than the Rafale due to its TVC nozzles and sturdy airframe. Rafale’s medium range AA missiles include MBDA MICA and MAGIC-II, while that of Su-35 are AA-11 Archer and AA-8 Aphid. The western systems are more reliable due to their advanced avionics.






Reference :- Defence Lover

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