A MiG-21 "Bison" of the Indian Air Force, the jet is of 1960s vintage

Could the Indian MiG-21 have downed Pakistani F-16? Military expert says it’s up to pilot, not plane

India’s claim that its MiG-21 fighter jet shot down a more modern Pakistani Air Force F-16 seems surprising at first, but a military expert tells RT there is more to the Indian Air Force than meets the eye.

The IAF confirmed that one of its MiG-21 fighters downed a PAF F-16 on Thursday, two days after Pakistan said that it had shot down two Indian jets as tensions continue to mount between the two nuclear powers over the disputed territory of Kashmir.

News reports from battle zones often contain “inaccuracies or deliberate disinformation,” but it doesn’t mean that a MiG-21 couldn’t have hit an F-16, even though the two planes are of completely “different generations,” Mikhail Khodarenok, military expert and retired colonel who served in Russian missile defence forces, told RT.

MiG-21 is a third-generation supersonic jet fighter and interceptor aircraft, which was introduced into the Soviet military in 1959. The F-16 is a fourth-generation supersonic multi-role fighter, which entered service with the US Air Force almost two decades later.

Obviously, the F-16 has much more advanced characteristics, including the combat radius of 547 km, compared to 370 km of MiG-21.

However, Khodarenok explained that the MiG-21 ‘Bison’ used by the Indian Air Force is “a largely modernised version of the aircraft.”

"Its ‘Spear’ radar system allows tracking down incoming enemy aircraft at a distance of up to 57 kilometres” in the front and up to 30 kilometres in the rear. It can track eight targets at the same time, with “the quick search and automatic capture of visually observed targets in close combat mode concluding with the use of guided missiles or cannon.” -- Mikhail Khodarenok, military expert

MiG-21 Bison boasts medium-range R-77 air-to-air self-guided missiles as part of its arsenal. They have a range of 110 kilometres and can reach the speed of 4250 km/h, while carrying a 22-kilogram warhead, he said.

“So MiG-21 could’ve well shot down an F-16. And could’ve done it easily,” Khodarenok said. “Besides, the best plane is the one with the best pilot inside. The rest is details.”