The Sukhoi Su-30MKI may be the Indian Air Force's primary air superiority fighter but the stars of Tuesday's surgical strike at terror camps across the LoC were the Mirage 2000s. A day later, Pakistani Air Force (PAF) released the deadliest arrow in its quiver - the F-16 Fighting Falcons - in a retaliatory strike, and lost one of them to Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman before his MiG21 was brought down and he was captured.
According to India Today, India had initially ordered some 36 single-seater Mirage 2000 aircraft and 4 twin-seater Mirage 2000 aircraft as a response to Pakistan's acquisition of the US-made F-16 Falcons. So, which one is a better fighter jet? Let's take a look:
Speed: The Mirage 2000, a single-engine fourth generation aircraft manufactured by Dassault Aviation, can reach top speeds of up to Mach 2.2 or 2,336 km/hour at high altitude while it can reach up to 1,110 km/hour in low altitude. On the other hand, the F-16 Falcon, a single-engine supersonic fighter manufactured by General Dynamics - now Lockheed Martin - for the US Air Force (USAF) is comparatively slower. It can reach a maximum speed of over Mach 2.
Weapons: The Mirage 2000 boasts nine hardpoints for weapons carriage and a combat range of 1,850 km. It is also tasked with a nuclear weapon delivery role. Apart from two 30 mm DEFA 554 revolver cannons, which can be used for air-to-air combat, it is also capable of launching unguided Matra 68 mm rocket and has a capacity of 18 rockets per pod. It addition, it is capable of launching Air-to-Air and Air-to-Surface missiles.
But while the F-16 also reportedly has a total of nine hardpoints, it boasts of more weapon storage capacity than the Mirage. It is armed with a better M61 Vulcan cannon in the left wing root and the internal Vulcan cannon has an extremely high rate of firing (6,000 rounds per minute). In addition, it can carry a wide variety of air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles, rockets or bombs and electronic jammers.
Climbing speed: The Mirage wins over the F-16 in this case. While the Mirage has a maximum climbing speed of 60,000 feet per minute, the F-16 reportedly manages 50,000 feet per minute. Their comparative sizes explain it all. The Mirage weighs 7500 kg (dry) and has a total takeoff weight of 17,000 kg while the Falcon weighs 8,570 kg (dry), with a maximum takeoff weight of 19,200 kg. The former can touch a maximum height of 59,000 feet while the F-16's ceiling is at 50,000 feet.
Combat radius: According to the Federation of American Scientists, the F-16C has a combat radius going up to 1,370 km with two bombs weighing around 907 kg each while the Mirage can go 1,475 km with four 250-kg bombs.
USP: The Mirage 2000 is mainly known for its capability of carrying out bombing operations. A single aircraft can hold at least two laser-guided bombs, capable of taking out major ground targets. However, since a large number of weapons can be stored on this aircraft, it can definitely be used efficiently in both air-to-air and air-to-ground combat.
The F-16, however, is better suited for air-to-air combat due to its high manoeuvring capability. It can pull 9-g manoeuvres. Moreover, its cockpit is still praised for the clear field of view it offers - pilots can get a 360-degree view during combat, thus greatly improving accuracy.
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