PAK FA or the F 35 for Indian Air force
After issues found in PAK FA Russia slowly move away from the project and insists India to driven the money to continue the project. India also not ready to sign the $6 billion R&D project with Russia before evaluating the capabilities of PAK FA. The IAF's backbone fighter Su 30 MKI currently facing problems due to lack of spares and support systems which was originated from Russia. This resulted the IAF to ground nearly half of the Su 30 MKI in grounds. So IAF won't make another risk with PAK FA.
India wanted to buy some 63 PAK FA units directly from Russia, and further plans to build some 127 FGFA. It's clear if India wants just the PAK FA Russians are ready to sell them. Not only to India countries like Iran also keen to buy the PAK FA. However developing the FGFA in India means India needs to provide $6 billion to Russia for research and development.
Government sanctioned the IAF to keep 42 squadrons of fighter jets. However half of the IAF squadron is vintage MiG aircraft's and half of them won't fly due to upgrades and lack of spares. The new procurement plans like Tejas, Rafale and PAK FA is also in doldrums. Which makes India to speed up procurement of new generation fighter jets.
China confirmed their induction of 5th generation aircraft J 20 by thia year. China may deploy upto ten J 20 stealth air craft by this year followed by mass production in coming years. India plans to induct squadron of PAK FA before 2020, due to the delay in FGFA project. However new reports mentions that option also out of hands. Since Russia plans to produce only one squadron of PAK FA fighters and keep them in reserve. and focusing Su 35 S for air superiority needs.
The reason behind the PAK FA issue is due to the lack of money. Russia waits so far to get money from India. However India refused to sign the R&D project. The Recent prime ministers visit to Moscow didn't mentions about the PAK FA program. that's a surprise to the Russians and Indians. However It's clear some kind of official talks about PAK FA should taken place regularly between Russia and India.
On the other hand F 35 is a good option to buy. The F 35 is a much good aircraft, However there is much difference between PAK FA and F 35. Same like Rafale and Su 35. There is only one mission does the Russians prefer is counter air, that is offensive and defensive air mission. While Americans and west prefers Counter Strike options. that is Offensive and defensive ground mission.
In one vs one fight F 35 and Rafale may loose against PAK FA and Su 35 S respectively. since the PAK FA and Su 35 is designed as counter air platforms. However when comes to pin point ground attack and penetrate mission F 35 and Rafale can score where PAK FA and Su 35 S can't.
West and Americans invested heavily in Air defense batteries for counter air missions. The Patriot missile and Aster missiles are good examples. Western air defense batteries are long range and reliable. The Russians do have similar systems S 400 is a good example.
However the Air borne platforms are must need to scan the air space from high. Since many aircraft's can fly very low and hide themselves from the Radar by flying the Radar's blind side. most of the West and US fighters designed as fly very low, unlike Russians fighters
During Iraqi war the missiles are short range and need guidance to approach the target. Nowadays long range air to air missiles with active seekers can perform long range interception of upto some 250 kilometers. European fighters like Rafale, Gripen and Typhoon American fighter F 35 can carry such long range missiles.
The powerful AESA Radar's in above said fighters can detect small air to air missiles launched from VLO - Very low observable aircraft's like PAK FA and J 20, Which expose the presence of Stealth aircraft thus allows the Rafale and other to use their long range missiles for Intercepting the stealth aircraft.
A typical scenario like a Rafale against PAK FA is, The Russians are running a CAP mission somewhere in Syria. The French on the other side is coming with Rafale armed with cruise missiles and PGM's along with MICA and Meteor Long range BVR missiles. The Rafale deployed in a mission to destroy a high value target inside Syria. Once the Rafale breached the Syrian air space the ground based radars will detect the Rafale and share the data with PAK FA running for CAP Mission.
The PAK FA comes with IR guided missiles as well as BVR missiles. PAK FA scan the airspace using the Byelka main AESA Radar. If the PAK FA uses the main radar the Radar warning receivers in the Rafale alert the pilot about the presence of unknown threat from exact location of the PAK FA.
The situational awareness system in Rafale may keep on the frequency for further identifying the Target, and probably can launch the Meteor missile for long range interception. The detection range of Byelka is known as some 200 kilometers. Meteor is known as 250 km range and the Rafale's RBE 2 AESA also have similar range.
If the PAK FA didn't use the main radar, and relay's in the Infrared search and Track system. This also allows the PAK FA to launch IR guided missiles like R 74. however the issue is the range of IRST. The detection range of IRST is very minimal, that is less than some 50 kilometers, same the R 74 missile too. If PAK FA used the Infrared systems then there is no chance of Rafale to survive, due to less reaction time and unknown location of missile origin.
One more is the situation can change, If the Rafale detects the PAK FA using it's much improved OSF - Front sector Optronics ( french version of IRST in Rafale ). Then Rafale shoots first and kills it. One more is the RCS, There is many analysis confirm the RCS value of PAK FA is very lesser, who can be detected using active radars in close range. So if PAK FA comes close to Rafale then there is a chance of 50-50 to each of them.
The same also goes with F 35 vs PAK FA. Here F 35 gets more advantage of detecting the enemy aircraft's using the optronics. The EOTS ( American version of IRST in F 35 ) in F 35 has pretty long range compared to all other similar system. The Range of EOTS mentioned and demonstrated it's capabilities upto some 150 kilometers.
It's clear the F 35 may lock the PAK FA at some 120 kilometers and launch the IR guided missile when the PAK FA comes close to some fifty kilometers. The Americans are studying to develop a long range IR guided missile which can be assisted by F 35 EOTS system roumered to be CUDA missile. If they succeeded then it would be a break through in air combat mission. Here F 35 can fire the first shot and escape first.
If PAK FA uses the Byelka Radar and the F 35 too aware of the presence of PAK FA using RWR ( Radar warning Receiver ). The F 35 too turn on the AN APG 81 and scan for activities. Here the interesting matter is who gets detected first, The Stealth F 35 or the Stealth PAK FA.
When comes to Su 35 S the F 35 simply detect the enemy first and launch it's missile and kills it. It's clear the missiles hit the target and destroys it completely. There is no word what if Su 35 S turned back by evading the missile. One must remember new generation air to air missiles are more intelligent than the Fighter jets. Maneuvering figures and speed is good example of that.
Here India need to counter the J 20 first, the Chinese going to deploy very soon or already deployed. Once the capabilities of J 20 exposed the Chinese may buy the PAK FA and throw it against IAF. It's clear the IAF face two kind of Russian modern jets like Su 35 S and PAK FA another two kind of Chinese stealth fighters like J 20 and J 31 deployed by both Pakistani Air force and Chinese Air force. The only option to counter them is deploying the F 35 Jets in IAF.
The another F 35's performance is the ground attack capability, The F 35 can carry variety of guided missiles in it's Internal weapon bay. The Internal weapon bay is larger enough to accommodate Anti shipping cruise missiles too. The Internal weapon bay can carry number of anti armour missiles like Brimstone and JAGM ( modern Hell fire Missile ) too. A good option to conduct surprise mission inside Pakistan and China without being detected.
Actually the problem with the F 35 is the Full rate production starts only after 2018, So IAF may gets the first batch by 2020 and operationalize it only after 2021.