Thursday, February 28, 2019

Indian Mig-21 shoots down a Pakistani F-16. How did that happen?

Comment by SNAFU! reader Ron...
All indications are that the MiG-21 successfully engaged in WVR combat with an F-16A and brought it down using an R-73 missile. There were a total of 4 F-16's in the flight engaged with 2 MiG-21s on QRA

The pair of MiG-21 were then engaged by ground based air defenses and one was hit reportedly by AAA resulting in the pilot having to bail out 3km (approx 1.2nm) inside enemy controlled territory. The wingman attempted to turn back and ascertain the downed airman's position but was re-engaged by the remaining F-16s and retreated while being pursued.

At this time the 2nd wave of QRA consisting a flight of SU-30MKI's engaged at BVR. An R-27 was reportedly fired from range of around 40km (25nm) causing the F-16 flight to scatter and retreat at supersonic speed (sonic booms were reported by ground observers). SU-30's did not engage in hot pursuit but remained in patrol orbit on the Indian side of the border
Is Ron correct?  Did it happen this way?  I've been looking but Twitter has turned pear shaped.  I get the distinct impression that the security/intel forces of both nations are trying to "tweak" public opinion.

Ron's accounting of the fight is a bit puzzling although the recent actions of a Super Hornet against one of Assad's fighter planes gives us a clue.

How could 4 F-16's not at least bloody the 2 Mig-21's?

If the Super Hornet encounter is informative then we have a problem with our missiles being spoofed by Russian countermeasures.  Remember the Super Hornet had to back off and fire an AMRAAM to get the kill because the Sidewinder was ineffective.

The idea that these two Mig-21 pilots could enter a 2 v 4, win that fight but lose to ground based anti-air is also instructive.

Fights over the forward edge of the battlefield is fraught with danger.  I hope the Naval Air Arm and the USAF is studying this fight.

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