India's Rafale vs. China's J-20: Can Quality Beat Quantity?

India's Rafale vs. China's J-20: Can Quality Beat Quantity?


The prospect of a confrontation between India's Rafale fighters and China's J-20s is a hotly debated topic. Some Indian Air Force (IAF) veterans confidently assert that a mere 36 Rafales could defeat over 200 J-20s, but a more nuanced analysis is necessary.

The Rafale undeniably possesses a significant advantage in combat experience, having operated extensively in Afghanistan, Libya, Mali, Iraq, and Syria. However, it remains uncertain whether this experience directly translates into superior pilot proficiency and proven combat tactics.

On the other hand, China's J-20 stealth fighter boasts advanced technology and the promise of fifth-generation capabilities. Yet, without any actual combat record, its true effectiveness remains a matter of speculation.

While the Rafale isn't officially classified as a fifth-generation fighter, it integrates many features common to that class. Superior avionics, a highly capable radar system, and an array of weaponry make the Rafale a formidable opponent.

China's history with unlicensed copies of Soviet jets raises further questions. These aircraft, although plentiful, lacked the combat experience and technological refinement of their Western counterparts, casting some doubt on the J-20's true capabilities in a conflict scenario. That said, as a fifth-generation fighter, the J-20 potentially benefits from advanced stealth and sensor fusion technology.

Importantly, China's Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group (CAIG) is demonstrating a growing commitment to innovation. The J-20 shows a substantial leap forward and could eventually rival Western fifth-generation aircraft. CAIG's successes with the Chengdu J-10 and FC-1 Xiaolong/JF-17 Thunder, along with China's impressive production capability, shouldn't be underestimated.

The overwhelming quantity of J-20s (over 200) presents a significant challenge. Joseph Stalin's adage, "Quantity has a quality all its own," holds relevance here. Even if the Rafale proves individually superior, sheer numbers can quickly tip the scales. Conversely, history provides numerous examples where tactics and pilot experience effectively exploited the weaknesses of larger opponent forces.

India's long-term defence strategy should strongly consider ramping up domestic production of technologically advanced aircraft like the AMCA. Reducing dependence on foreign imports will guarantee a steady aircraft supply while fostering technological sovereignty.

The Rafale vs. J-20 debate underscores the complexity of modern combat. While the IAF's Rafales are undeniably powerful, the combination of China's growing technological competence, sheer numbers of potentially capable J-20s, and superior production facilities creates a situation where quantity could very well outweigh quality. However, the decisive factors in any potential conflict will likely be pilot skill, effective tactics, and battlefield adaptability.
 
If deal is signed in June / July for 26 Rafales Then total No may Increase to 62, But i dont agree Highly Capable Radar of Rafale may b Rafale F-5 may b most Lethal Fighter Jet in its category . I Think India should Demand for Integration of Rudrram series & Brahms -NG Integration on Rafale if they win MRFA with GaN based AESA Radar.& Lastly Indigenous Engine when developed i.e 110 kN Which is Going to b developed for AMCA MK2.
 
This debate has a lot to consider. In a one-on-one fight, it is quite probable that an Indian Rafale will come on top over a Chinese J-20. However, as the article suggested, numbers play a role, and so do other things. A lot will depend on where such a battle takes place, what sort of weapons both sides have, what supporting forces each side brings, etc.

All in all, the balance is not favourable for us in the grand scheme of things, especially considering that China possesses over 1,500 modern fighters to our 600 or so (best case scenario). Moreover, with the exception of our Rafales, Su-30s, and possibly the Tejas, the other aircraft in that 600 number (Mirage 2000, MiG-29K, and Jaguar) are all at a technological disadvantage compared to most Chinese aircraft in that 1,500 number.

Hence, even if China could deploy 40% of their Air Force against us (and that number doesn't include the PLAN's aircraft, so the balance is even more lopsided), we might be in trouble unless we adopt a defensive posture, which kind of seems to be what we intend to do.

Regardless, we have to press on with MRFA, increasing production rates for the Tejas, the Super Sukhoi program, Tejas Mk 2, AMCA, etc. We cannot afford to be complacent at this point of time.
 
India need to concentrate on Tejas series ORCA and AMCA and need to invest in Kaveri engine
 
India need to concentrate on Tejas series ORCA and AMCA and need to invest in Kaveri engine
The Kaveri is already being worked on, and will power drones. The chances of getting it into a fighter in today's time are very slim. Arguably, the best thing to do there would be to take whatever has been learnt from it and use it for the 110 kN engines project and beyond.
 
  • Paint all 36× Rafale in CCP Flag & Xi Jinping livery 🎨🌈🖌️. PLAAF pilots will hesitate to shoot at the image of party & its leader since PLA is the organ of CCP. Problemo Solved. 🤷🏻‍♂️
  • The first J-20 entered service in-&-around early 2018. After 6 years with 2 years of Covid shocks, CAIG produced ~230 jets @ 40 jets per annum. Kya bakwas hai! Saala bhootni ka Andreas Rupprechtt. Still counting tail numbers 🤦🏻🤦🏻
  • BTW, what is the opinion of defence-analyst Ranesh Rajan?
 
Even Rafale F100 will have the same SNECMA M88 engine that produce 50KN x 2 dry thrust, which is the main drawback in the age of hypersonic fighter jets, if we would have bought Rafale during previous MRCA1.0, 15 years ago, it would have made sense, now it is too late to spend $30-$35 Bln to buy 114 4th gen fighter jets, if we have to spend this much money on a 4th gen platform, then a combination of both Tejas MK2 and ORCA are the best way to go, also Kaveri engine is getting matured, all Indian would save us a fortune.
 
Rafale is the most advanced fighter jet. China will not be able to develop fighter that matches the capabilities of Rafale in another 50 years. So no worries
 
So its 36 vs 200!!!!!
U know, 200nos mig21s can also destroy 36 Rafales…. Let alone j20s….
IAF is lagging behind in every aspect of air power… don’t have enough 4.5get fighters, Fuel tankers, Transporters, Attack heleos, heavy lift heleos, jet trainers, Male/Hale combat/surveillance drones, kamikaze drones, dedicated sats, different fighters can’t share data among themselves, mk1a delayed, nobody knows where is mk2, Amca, Mwf, Tedbf……
Or ye chutiye 36 Rafale leke khus ho rhe he, jese duniya jeet lenge……
 
So its 36 vs 200!!!!!
U know, 200nos mig21s can also destroy 36 Rafales…. Let alone j20s….
IAF is lagging behind in every aspect of air power… don’t have enough 4.5get fighters, Fuel tankers, Transporters, Attack heleos, heavy lift heleos, jet trainers, Male/Hale combat/surveillance drones, kamikaze drones, dedicated sats, different fighters can’t share data among themselves, mk1a delayed, nobody knows where is mk2, Amca, Mwf, Tedbf……
Or ye chutiye 36 Rafale leke khus ho rhe he, jese duniya jeet lenge……
Yes, lol. The premise of the article is wrong. How can 36 rafale ever take on 200+ chinese jets.

The reason for IAF lagging behind on everything is lack of money. We cant compete with defence budgets of china (more than 3 times our budget) and america(10 times of our budget)
 
Even Rafale F100 will have the same SNECMA M88 engine that produce 50KN x 2 dry thrust, which is the main drawback in the age of hypersonic fighter jets, if we would have bought Rafale during previous MRCA1.0, 15 years ago, it would have made sense, now it is too late to spend $30-$35 Bln to buy 114 4th gen fighter jets, if we have to spend this much money on a 4th gen platform, then a combination of both Tejas MK2 and ORCA are the best way to go, also Kaveri engine is getting matured, all Indian would save us a fortune.
Bro, what age of hypersonic fighter jet you are referring to? If you mean the SR-71, it was not hypersonic with top speed of mach 3. There is no hypersonic jet in service today.

But I do agree that MRFA does not make sense today. Best to focus on domestic jets.
 
One day Emperor Akbar and Birbal were taking a walk in the palace gardens. It was a nice summer morning and there were plenty of crows happily playing around the pond. While watching the crows, a question came into Akbar's head. He wondered how many crows were there in his kingdom.

Since Birbal was accompanying him, he asked Birbal this question. After a moment's thought, Birbal replied, "There are ninety-five thousand four hundred and sixty-three crows in the Kingdom".

Amazed by his quick response, Akbar tried to test him again, "What if there are more crows than you answered?" Without hesitating Birbal replied, "If there are more crows than my answer, then some crows are visiting from other neighboring kingdoms". "And what if there are less crows", Akbar asked. "Then some crows from our kingdom have gone on holidays to other places".

This analysis of J-20 vs Rafale sounds to be an exercise in the same vein. Nobody knows the capabilities of the Rafales in Indian inventory and both quantity and quality of the J-20s are anybody's guess.

A unbiased military analyst performing a unbiased analysis in such a scenario will favor quantity over quality as during wartime the Chinese will be able to easily replenish their stock of J-20, but India can't do the same for every Rafale lost in battle.

Any sane person will come to conclusion that the answer to the Chinese J-20 is not Rafale, but AMCA..
 
IAF first of all is sitting in a speculation that J20 is not that good stealth fighter.
The question is of what if it is that good!?
This western propaganda which makes so much people believe that yes a 4.5+ gen Rafales are superior to 5 gen J20 is just so pathetic.....same goes for the people who actually believe it.

If J20 is actually the Chinese Raptor, then we are done FR.
 
Yes, lol. The premise of the article is wrong. How can 36 rafale ever take on 200+ chinese jets.

The reason for IAF lagging behind on everything is lack of money. We cant compete with defence budgets of china (more than 3 times our budget) and america(10 times of our budget)
You have not appreciated the issues correctly on both counts. During any potential serious engagement between PLAAF and IAF, Quad alliance will certainly deploy assets against PLA denying them to field all 200 J-20 fighters. PLA faces geographical challenge of 4000+ metre high Tibetan airbases imposing 50% load penalty. PLA training level is considerably low. Availability rate of J-20 is below par and less than 50% . PLA has only 4-5 airbases that can be used for operations across LAC. If you combine all these factors, you can understand the erroneous calculation of 200 vs 36 . Chinese budget is certainly larger than ours but lack of timely decision is more harmful than lack of money. GoI could have at least placed order for 36 additional Rafales costing about $5-6 billions as it will not require repeat cost of €1.8 billions for ISE , Infrastructure is already available for two more squadrons, training is completed. Repeat order only needs $1 billion per year distributed in 5-6 years. GDP of Bharat is fastest growing and poised to cross $7-8 trillions by 2030 . Bharat is capable to provide necessary funding for defence even if we keep defence budget within prudent level of 2% .
 
All the countries where rafale have combat history are defence less countries. So they have free hand to shoot anything without fear of enemy.
Will this type of experience count ?

Rafale can be good but cant be best and literally nothing is best, every weapon have pros and cons. We have seen best tank "Challanger" and "Abram" in action in Ukraine. These were easy kills. So we cant really depend on any western platform, they are more of propaganda.

Better focus on our own weapon systems.
 
Like USA is using Ukraine against RUssia, India should make sure, provocations will not result in the direction, where India becomes testing grounds for Western weapons against china...
 
This debate has a lot to consider. In a one-on-one fight, it is quite probable that an Indian Rafale will come on top over a Chinese J-20. However, as the article suggested, numbers play a role, and so do other things. A lot will depend on where such a battle takes place, what sort of weapons both sides have, what supporting forces each side brings, etc.

All in all, the balance is not favourable for us in the grand scheme of things, especially considering that China possesses over 1,500 modern fighters to our 600 or so (best case scenario). Moreover, with the exception of our Rafales, Su-30s, and possibly the Tejas, the other aircraft in that 600 number (Mirage 2000, MiG-29K, and Jaguar) are all at a technological disadvantage compared to most Chinese aircraft in that 1,500 number.

Hence, even if China could deploy 40% of their Air Force against us (and that number doesn't include the PLAN's aircraft, so the balance is even more lopsided), we might be in trouble unless we adopt a defensive posture, which kind of seems to be what we intend to do.

Regardless, we have to press on with MRFA, increasing production rates for the Tejas, the Super Sukhoi program, Tejas Mk 2, AMCA, etc. We cannot afford to be complacent at this point of time.
China will deploy bulk of their fighters to their eastern sector. They may deploy roughly the same fighters we have in LAC. As for Rafale matching J20 that is absolutely BS. J20 is a refined tested mass produced 5th generation fighter while Rafale is a 4.5 generation fighter with advanced radar/EW/BVRM but no VLO capability like J20. J20 would likely overwhelm Rafale because it can detect Rafale and fire first while Rafale will take longer to detect J20.
 
J20 is a VLO 5th generation stealth fighter while Rafale is a 4.5 generation fighter. J20 will detect and fire on Rafale before Rafale does the same in J20. India needs a proper 5th generation fighter to match J20 instead of hopping Rafale will somehow save us. Rafale can easily match and defeat China's J10C, J11D and J16 however. But considering china has way more J10C/J11D/J16s there is a disadvantage here again. India needs to fastrack SU30 MKI upgrade, Mk1a production and Mk2/AMCA development
 
IAF first of all is sitting in a speculation that J20 is not that good stealth fighter.
The question is of what if it is that good!?
This western propaganda which makes so much people believe that yes a 4.5+ gen Rafales are superior to 5 gen J20 is just so pathetic.....same goes for the people who actually believe it.

If J20 is actually the Chinese Raptor, then we are done FR.
India shouldn't go to war with China until 2035 or else it's over.
 

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