Chinese J-20 dominates mock battle, downing dozens of IAF Rafales

Simulation games are not solely about showcasing strategic maneuvers within a replicated battleground scenario. They also function as an effective tool for comparing armament between various armed forces, frequently revealing significant vulnerabilities in both tactical strategies and weapon uses.  

Thrust vectoring engine: J-20 performs strong maneuvers at low speed
Photo credit: ADN

In a recent simulated combat exercise, a Chinese fifth-generation J-20 fighter jet purportedly brought down 17 Dassault Rafale fighter jets from the Indian Air Force [IAF]. This remarkable claim originated from a Chinese pilot associated with the Wang Hai Air Group of the PLA’s Eastern Theater Command. The pilot stated that he and his teammates successfully downed the Rafale jets during these simulation trials.

The purpose

Military simulation drills, put simply, prepare our soldiers for real battle scenarios. They create a setting that mirrors the unpredictability and challenges of war, allowing troops to refine their skills and enhance their readiness. 

These drills serve as a platform for testing and scrutinizing military strategies. In these simulated settings, leaders can assess the efficiency of their plans and adjust them if necessary. This proactive approach helps to identify and rectify potential weak spots before they cause issues in an actual battle situation. 

In addition to this, they provide a risk-free environment for troops to hone their skills. Soldiers can learn and improve on everything, from fundamental combat skills to complex responsibilities such as managing large-scale operations or utilizing high-tech military machinery. 

French Rafale F5 coming with emphasis on EW and SEAD in 2030
Photo credit: Reddit

Not only that, but these drills also act as a bridge, fostering inter-agency or multinational cooperation. They provide an opportunity for different military units, or even nations, to learn how to collaborate more effectively. This enhances communication and coordination, which are vital aspects of multinational peacekeeping missions or joint military exercises. 

Last but not least, military simulation drills also play a role in research and development. They serve as a real-world lab to test new technologies, weapons, and equipment, allowing for fine-tuning and improvement before these are deployed to real battlefields.

J-20 vs Rafale

The J-20s and Rafales are both powerhouses in the world of fighter jets. The J-20’s unique radar technology can hide it from enemy radar. This provides them with a significant advantage over the Rafale, which doesn’t possess this full stealth capacity. In a battle, this could easily tip the scales in favor of the J-20.

Egyptian Air Force surpassed 10,000 flight hours with French Rafales
Photo credit: Wikipedia

Recent mock exercises suggest that it’s this hidden identity technology that gives the J-20 an edge. Of course, the J-20’s radar tech isn’t its only trump card. They also boast an Active Electronically Scanned Array [AESA] radar — one of the best of its kind. 

While the Rafales come with AESA too, the J-20’s version has a few extra benefits. Their AESA radar features an infrared or electro-optical detection system, enabling the J-20 pilot to obtain a full, 360-degree radar view. Moreover, it can access real-time data from Chinese military satellites, facilitating course corrections for pilots. 

However, some speculate that the J-20’s victories may not reflect real-world conditions. Some suggest that the mock exercise was biased in favor of the J-20 — something that wouldn’t happen in actual combat. 

Chinese stealth J-20 with serial number 2051 has design changes
Photo credit: Chinese Internet

People also question how a real J-20 would perform against a Rafale, given that it doesn’t have much actual combat experience. Nevertheless, Chinese military aviation specialist Fu Qianshao believes that the J-20’s advanced stealth, agility, and weaponry offer a huge advantage over older Western military aircraft. 

Despite such optimistic views, there is an ongoing debate about the Rafale’s capabilities in comparison to the J-20. Chinese experts view the Rafale as a jet from a previous generation, making it less capable than the J-20. On the other hand, Indian experts assert that despite the J-20’s advantages on paper, the Rafale’s combat record and multifunctional capacity make it a reliable adversary. 

Ultimately, the impressive combat record of the Rafale, having been proven on numerous battlefields over two decades, endows it with a formidable reputation. Hence, while new jets like the J-20 might boast state-of-the-art tech, they’ll have to prove themselves in actual combat to earn a similar level of respect.


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