India, Pakistan aerial skirmish in Balakot and fighters used including Su-30MKI and JF-17 continue to intrigue defense experts. According to experts, SU-30MKIs are one of the most powerful fighters on the planet with one ‘fixable’ weakness.
The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) had deployed as many as 24 fighter jets, including the JF-17, in response to India’s airstrike on Balakot terrorist camps on February 26, 2019.
Several of these jets managed to cross the Line of Control (LoC), the de facto India-Pakistan border, releasing precision-guided glide bombs on Indian military installations in the Rajouri sector in Jammu and Kashmir.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) scrambled eight fighter aircraft, including two Russian Sukhoi-30 MKI, to intercept the Pakistani aircraft when the launch of several AIM-120 C5 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM) was detected in their direction. The AMRAAMs, launched when the PAF jets were well inside the Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, surprised the IAF while they outranged their air-to-air missiles.
The two Su-30MKIs were caught within the 100-km range of the Pakistani AMRAAMs and managed to dodge them. The IAF fighters were saved from being shot but were unable to retaliate against the adversary F-16s as the Russian R-77 missiles they were armed with did not have enough range.
The IAF later said the Russian missiles were unable to deliver the advertised range and cannot engage targets farther than 80 km.