Recent reports reveal that pilots of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) were given access to the French Dassault Rafale medium weight multirole fighter, and were trained to operate these fighter jets in France.
— Global Village Space (@GVS_News) September 19, 2019
India has garnered much attention for its acquisition of these fighter aircrafts, and the acquisition engulfed Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP government in a mega-corruption scandal associated with the exuberant expenses paid by the Indian exchequer to undertake this deal.
Indian Air Defense Shattered
India’s primary reason to acquire the Rafale was to counter the impregnable air defense of Pakistan, which had become a pressing concern for India in the aftermath of the swift defeat the PAF fighter pilots handed to the Indian Air Force pilots who ventured into Pakistani airspace during 27th February’s “Operation Swift Retort”.
Now that the Pakistani fighter pilots have operated India’s widely publicized Rafale, Pakistan is fully aware of the exact specifications of the aircraft, launching a terrible blow to India’s designs of having a competitive edge in air warfare.
Pakistan Air Force launches 'Project Azm' which aims to develop and manufacture a 5th Generation Stealth Fighter.
Good Luck Pakistan. pic.twitter.com/K3h24c1UP4
— Pakistan First (@APMLOfficial_) July 7, 2017
It is important to note that the Pakistan Air Force has no designs to acquire and operate the French Rafale. Instead, it has set its sights on the upcoming JF-17 Block 3 link and stealth fighters manufactured under the Project AZM in a bid to innovate its fleet of fighter aircrafts.
Pakistan fighter pilots, under a program of the Qatari Air Force, were sent to France to acquire training on the Rafale aircrafts. The Qatari Armed Forces have been dependent on recruits from Pakistan to operate its acquired aircrafts and other hardware since the 1970s.
During the 1991 Gulf War, personnel of the Pakistan Army assisted Qatar in the battle against the Iraqi forces and even operated Qatari battle tanks to engage on behalf of the Gulf state.
This has allowed Pakistan’s air defense to familiarize itself with the specifications and limitations of the Rafale design, alongside understanding its weapon systems.
The small population of Qatar and its elevated lifestyle standards has rendered the Gulf state unable to recruit its own citizens to serve in the armed forces and air force, and much like its neighbor, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, it is heavily dependent on Pakistan’s military assistance.
Pakistan’s Familiarity with Rafale Specifications
The Pakistani fighter pilots who underwent training on the Rafale aircrafts in France have flown the aircraft before the first squadron of the Indian Air Force got a chance to fly its new acquisition. This has allowed Pakistan’s air defense to familiarize itself with the specifications and limitations of the Rafale design, alongside understanding its weapon systems.
This will allow PAF’s assets, including the JF-17 fighter jets equipped with PL-12 and the HQ-16 air defense batteries a superiority in avoiding attacks launched from the French manufactured Rafale, alongside effectively neutralizing these aircrafts.
Due to the ongoing corruption scandal that has engulfed the Modi-led BJP government over the acquisition of French Rafale jets, and Pakistan’s knowledge of its specifications and weapon systems, the Indian Air Force is dubious about pursuing further acquisitions of these aircraft, and is presently considering the continuation of its RFI tender for the new medium-weight fighter jets.
However, it is important to note that the Indian fighter aircraft fleet continues to remain highly capable of warding off potential Pakistani attacks and giving PAF a tough time with the presence of heavier and dynamic fighter aircrafts, such as the Su-30MKI link, which is far superior than the French Rafale, and is capable of supporting state of the art weapons systems, such as the AIM-132 air to air missiles, the R-77, the BrahMos cruise missile, and the R-27ER, all of which have not been used by the Pakistan Air Force.