India’s claim that its MiG-21 fighter jet shot down a more modern Pakistani Air Force F-16 seems surprising at first, but a military expert told Russia Today that there is more to the Indian Air Force than meets the eye.
The IAF claimed that one of its MiG-21 fighters downed a PAF F-16 on Wednesday after Pakistan said that it had shot down two Indian jets as tensions continue to mount between the two nuclear powers over the disputed territory of Kashmir.
The Pakistani military has denied any losses to their aerial assets, adding that they did not use an F-16 during the engagement on Wednesday.
According to the Pakistani military, their air force used their domestically-made JF-17 Thunder jets to confront the Indian MiG-21 warplanes over the disputed Kashmir region.
Could a MiG-21 jet shoot down an F-16?
News reports from battle zones often contain “inaccuracies or deliberate disinformation,” but it doesn’t mean that a MiG-21 couldn’t have hit an F-16, even though the two planes are of completely “different generations,” Mikhail Khodarenok, military expert and retired colonel who served in Russian missile defense forces, told RT.
The MiG-21 is a third-generation supersonic jet fighter and interceptor aircraft, which was introduced into the Soviet military in 1959.
The F-16 is a fourth-generation supersonic multirole fighter, which entered service with the US Air Force almost two decades later.
Obviously, the F-16 has much more advanced characteristics, including the combat radius of 547 km, compared to 370 km of MiG-21.
However, Khodarenok explained that the MiG-21-93 ‘Bison’ used by the Indian Air Force is “a largely modernized version of the aircraft.”
“Its ‘Spear’ radar system allows tracking down incoming enemy aircraft at a distance of up to 57 kilometers” in the front and up to 30 kilometers in the rear. It can track eight targets at the same time, with “the quick search and automatic capture of visually observed targets in close combat mode concluding with the use of guided missiles or cannon.”
MiG-21 Bison boasts medium-range R-77 air-to-air self-guided missiles as part of its arsenal. They have a range of 110 kilometers and can reach the speed of 4250 km/h, while carrying a 22-kilogram warhead, he said.
“So MiG-21-93 could’ve well shot down an F-16. And could’ve done it easily,” Khodarenok said. “Besides, the best plane is the one with the best pilot inside. The rest is details.”