AMRAAM jammed by Su-30MKI – further questions on radar BVR combat

In a recent clash between Indian Su-30MKIs and Pakistani F-16s, latter had fired “four to five American AMRAAMs (AIM-120 advanced medium-range air-to-air missile) from a distance of 40-50 km at the Indian aircraft including the Su-30 and the MiG-21 Bison.” IAF had negated Pakistani claims of having shot down a Su-30MKI in the engagement. Even if true, that claim would give Pk of 20-25%, nowhere close to 50-90% often claimed. Historically the attacker’s claims were typically significantly overstated, so there is no reason to believe Pakistani claims.

In February, Pakistani F-16 had been shot down by Indian MiG-21, confirmed by both sides.

EDIT: Missile used was AIM-120-C5. Multiple launches were “conclusively observed“. Su-30 had spoofed a number of AMRAAM missiles.

EDIT2: Further analysis of the F-16 shootdown.

8 thoughts on “AMRAAM jammed by Su-30MKI – further questions on radar BVR combat

  1. In fact since I have been following your blog, nearly all your assertions in air-air combats seems to be verified. Noteworthy to add before the Mig-21 bison downed, the indian pilot had managed to dodge several pakistanis AMRAAM.
    Recently when ‘an’ F-18 -as US narration- shot down a syrian SU-22, in fact it was not one F-18 that had fired ‘one’ AMRAAM, but several F-18 had fired several AMRAAM. The syrian SU-22 -famous for its ability to outmanoeuver, or its agility 🙂 . It turns in the air better than a tank- had enough time to dodge several US air-air missiles. As U said, the success -if it exists, remains to be seen- is in the best case confused and very dubious.


    1. Indeed, which is why it is best to be sceptical about any optimistic claims. Generally, new weapons will only supplement old ones, not supplant them. EDIT: And thanks for the info, it seems that all english-language sources say only one AMRAAM. Have any links for details? At worst, I’ll use Google translate.


      1. Even now, 3 months later, the full details seem to be disputed.

        The Indians claim a few AMRAAMs were fired.

        There is even a dispute that the F-16 was shot down.

        The Indians are upgrading their missiles.

        There seem to be a lot of egos at stake, which may be part of why we don’t have the truth.


  2. The fact that the Mig-21 bison which compared to modern fighters has low T/W ratio and high wing loading due to the upgrades, analog RWR tarang and no MAWS can evade relatively new AMRAAM is surprising. The crashed Mig-21 tail warhead impact indicates that it might have been a rear hit from an air to air missile or SAM, not surprising considering the poor rearward visibility of the mig. It makes wonder what a high energy, low wing loading fighter like the FLX equipped with a digital RWR, MAWS, good cockpit visibility and active decoys like the brite cloud along with the traditional countermeasures can do to modern air to air missile pk.
    All this makes me think that even the Meteor might not be the silver bullet it has been touted to be, after all its seeker is technologically similar to the AMRAAM which was claimed to have been jammed. The inherent limitations such as a small antenna, low power and the lack of high processing power to implement good ECCM will mean that missiles will be at a disadvantage vis-a-vis a jammer esp if the seeker characteristics are known. It should also be noted that the SU-30 hammers are made by Israel who also use AMRAAMs and are well aware of its characteristics to device countermeasures.


    1. Indeed. Hence why I am so sceptical about claimed BVR missile Pk. And no, Meteor most likely is not a silver bullet, even if it is far better than traditional BVRAAM. Good point about the seeker, that is why I proposed Meteor with IR seeker, or at least dual-mode active/anti-radiation seeker.


  3. A big question in these fights becomes pilot skill. How skilled are the two nation’s pilots relative to each other and to what might be described as a competent opponent?

    The Mig-21 is quite outdated and not at all a good air superiority aircraft even at its technology level, but it is clear that pilot skill trumps everything.

    An interesting question becomes the jamming – how useful will radar guided BVR missiles be in the face of jamming? I think there is one possible idea – combine jamming with anti-radiation. If the missile is jammed, enable an anti-radiation mode. I believe I once read that it was standard Russian policy to launch long range missiles of different types – some radar guided, some thermal guided, and possibly anti-radiation.

    So far it is looking like BVR missiles do not have a very good Pk and that may be true even if the opponent is not highly skilled.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Such modes exist with the AMRAAM as well in the form of Home-On-Jam mode but for that mode to be turned on the missile has to know that it is being jammed. Jamming detection is easy when it comes to noise jamming (even in this case a blinking noise jammer can make HOJ difficult) but it is difficult to detect deception jamming by DRFM esp for a missile with limited space, power and processing capabilities. The head-on detection range for IR seekers although improved is still very short esp at lower altitude compared to RF seekers. The solution might an active-passive seeker which turns on the active mode at the last moment but the missile will large and bulky. A multi-mode seeker like the RIM-116 with a passive RF+Passive IR to improve accuracy seems to be a fully passive, low power compact option. The RIM-116 block 2 seeker is effective against LPI threats as well. The Passive RF seeker can also function as a Semi-Active seeker(if the launch platform has a decent radar) in case an aware target turns off its RF emissions, it will trigger the RWR but the target is already aware.

      Click to access a042836.pdf


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