As Russia and France bombs Islamic State (IS) positions in Syria, both have been touting the prowess of their respective fighter aircraft- the Sukhoi Su-34 and the Dassault Rafale.
While Russia has launched air strikes on the side of the Syrian government and France on the side of the anti-Assad rebels, but against one common enemy, the Islamic State terrorist group, both seem keen to highlight the precision bombing capabilities of their respective aircraft.
The sales success of the Rafale in Egypt and Qatar is credited in no small part to its successful participation in the Libyan war four years ago. The Rafale was seen as a ‘battle-proven’ aircraft, a fact Dassault executives were quick to stress in various air shows.
Egyptian air force officials have stated that the Rafale was chosen to carry forward Egypt’s fight against Al-Qaida and IS rebels in its Sinai peninsula due to Rafale’s ability to hit ground targets conclusively.
At the Paris Air Show earlier this year, a Rafale simulator had Islamic State targets in the background with potential customers invited to knock out imaginary IS targets based in Syria and Iraq from the cockpit.
Russia has been handicapped to the extent that its front-line aircraft such as the Su-30, Su-27 and Su-34 have not been involved in a well-publicized conflict such as the fight against the IS. Though Syria possesses older generation MiG planes, they have been reported more for causing civilian deaths than any real hard damage to IS positions. However, all this is about to change.
As Russia begins its air campaign against the IS, the jet leading the firepower was the Sukhoi Su-34 Fullback. The pro-government Sputnik News devoted space on its website to sing the aircraft’s praise.
“Equipped with short-range R-73 dogfighting missiles, the Su-34 also features long-range R-77 air-to-air radar-guided projectiles. In addition, the fighter carries a wide range of air-to-ground missiles. Including the Kh-59ME, Kh-31A, Kh-31P, Kh-29T, Kh-29L, and the S-25LD, it reported”
These weapons can hit both ground and maritime targets. The fighter also features the Leninets B-004 array radar, the report added.
The recent sales success of the Su-35 in Algeria has opened up the prospect of additional sales in the Middle East. “When the dust settles down on the IS operations and wartime activity winds down in Syria and Iraq, countries will be evaluating military equipment and that which makes the maximum kills has the best chance of being sold”, said a Russian source.