Pakistan vs India
Context and Precedent
|Pakistani F-16 Fighting Falcon|
It’s tough to tell the players without a program. So a little background. The Pakistan Air Force has 45 American made F-16’s in inventory. It also has 100 PAC JF-17 Thunder, or CAC FC-1 Xiaolong, is a lightweight, single-engine, multi-role combat aircraft developed jointly by the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex and the Chengdu Aircraft Corporation of China.
China helped Pakistan develop its nuclear energy and weapons program and has had a long relationship with them. Russia has been a military equipment supplier to India and has helped the Indians keep their sixty year-old MiGs in the air.
On 27 February, Pakistan announced that it downed two Indian Air Force fighter jets. India claimed it downed a Pakistani F-16 fighter and said eyewitnesses watched it crash in Pakistani Kashmir. Pakistan denied that any of its F-16s participated in the air attack on the 27th.
On 28 February, Pakistani Prime Minister Khan confirmed that only one aircraft, an Indian MiG 21 was downed, and its pilot taken into custody. Pakistani air crews celebrated the first air-to-air kill by a Chinese-designed, Pakistani-assembled JF-17 Thunder fighter jet. The unit, based at Kamra air force base, posted images of their celebration to the web.
|Indian MiG 21|
The Fly in the Ointment
On 28 February, Indian authorities recovered in Indian Kashmir and displayed for the media the identification plate of a US-made AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Air-Air Missile (AMRAAM). Only Pakistani F-16s supposedly are fitted for those missiles.
On 1 March, the Indians presented the missile information to the US Embassy and asked for an investigation.
On 3 March, the US requested Pakistan to explain the AIM-120 AMRAAM found in India. The US sold F-16s and their weapons to Pakistan with the understanding they would not be transferred and would be used only to defend Pakistan. The action on the 27th was a Pakistani air attack.
The Pakistanis continue to deny that an F-16 was involved. They claim a Chinese JF-17 made its first kill. They have not said what weapon downed the Indian MiG-21 Bison.
If the Pakistani claims are accurate, then Pakistan has outfitted a JF-17 with the US AIM-120 AMRAAM. That means that Pakistan has transferred to China the technology for the US AMRAAM in violation of its end use certificate.
A Few More Details
China has developed its own version of a medium range, beyond-visual-range missile which is reputed to be comparable to the AIM-120. With the US technology, it also has the means to improve its missile and to develop countermeasures to US missiles. This can alter any air encounter between Chinese and US and Allied aircraft, such as in defense of Taiwan. It also alters Indian air force calculations.
The Indian government and army still claim that the AIM-120 fragment means that Pakistani F-16s participated in the fight. Such use would violate the terms of sale because this was an offensive Pakistani air operation.
On 4 March, Indian press also still makes sensational claims that India downed an F-16. Expert analysis of the imagery posted by Indian press confirms that the aircraft the Indian eyewitnesses saw crash was their own MiG-21 Bison. The Indian press concocted a completely fraudulent biography of a Pakistani pilot who was supposedly mistaken for an Indian and beaten to death by Pakistanis. The name and the entire narrative are fake.
Prime Minister Modi lamented the poor performance by the Indian Air Force, both in the airstrike against Pakistan and in defending Indian air space.