Why the IAF is opting for 24 second-hand Mirage 2000 fighter jets

Pourquoi l'IAF opte pour 24 avions de chasse Mirage 2000 d'occasion - Phil Team

Produced by the French company Dassault Aviation, the multi-role single-engine fighter aircraft performed exceptionally well during Operation Balakot in 2019

In an attempt to strengthen its fleet of fourth-generation fighters, the Indian Air Force (IAF) is preparing to acquire 24 second-hand Mirage 2000 fighters, manufactured by Dassault Aviation.

The IAF will also secure parts for its two existing squadrons of the aircraft.

According to a report of the Hindustan Times , insiders said the IAF had initiated a contract worth 27 million euros with the manufacturer to buy the fighters, eight of which are ready to fly.

The report also revealed that these planes, which will cost 1.125 million euros each, will soon be shipped to India in containers.

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The Mirage Fighters

The Mirage-2000 is undoubtedly one of the IAF's most versatile and lethal aircraft and it was first introduced into service in 1985.

Shortly after inducting the Mirage, the IAF gave it the name - Vajra - which means lightning in Sanskrit. It is developed by Dassault Aviation and first flew in 1978 and was inducted into the French Air Force in 1984.

India placed an initial order for 36 single-seat Mirage-2000s and four two-seat Mirage 2000s in 1982 in response to Pakistan's purchase of US-made F-16 fighter jets from Lockheed Martin.

The Mirage-2000 played a decisive role in the Kargil War in 1999 and turned it in favor of India.

In 2004, the government placed an additional order for 10 Mirage-2000 aircraft bringing the total to 50 jets.

It was in 2011 that another contract was signed which saw Mirage 2000 jets upgraded to Mirage 2000-5 Mk - increasing the life of the aircraft, which will now serve until 2030.

The Mirage 2000 is powered by a single shaft motor called SNECMA M53, which makes it light and simple.

The aircraft weighs 7,500 kg (dry) and has a total takeoff weight of 17,000 kg.

The fighter jet can reach a maximum speed of Mach 2.2 (2,336 km/h) and can travel 1,550 km with drop tanks. It can touch a maximum height of 59,000 feet.

In comparison, India's other fighter and most advanced fighter aircraft - the Russian-made Sukhoi Su30MKI has a speed of 2,120 km/h (Mach 2), slower than the Mirage-2000 and is also heavier . This gives the Mirage-2000 an advantage in fast operations.

The Mirage 2000 comes with an electric flight control system and a Sextant VE-130 HUD, which displays data related to flight control, navigation, target engagement and weapon firing.

The Mirage 2000 is capable of carrying laser-guided bombs, air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles. It also has a Thomson-CSF RDY (Multi-target Doppler Radar) radar on board.

Apart from India, Mirage 2000 is used by France, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Peru, Taiwan, Peru, Greece and Brazil.

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Used in Balakot Strikes

On February 26, 2019, 20 fully armed Mirage 2000 fighter jets entered Pakistani airspace and dropped 1,000 kg laser-guided bombs on the Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist launch pads across the Line of Control .

There Balakot Strike was India's first-ever air operation in Pakistan beyond Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

The Balakot airstrike was New Delhi's retaliation for the Pulwama terror attack, where a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) convoy was attacked and 42 personnel were killed.

Mirage 2000 versus F-16

After the Balakot airstrike, many wondered which fighter was better between the Mirage 2000 and Pakistan's F-16 Fighting Falcons, what they call their deadliest arrow in its quiver.

On the speed side, the Mirage 2000 can reach top speeds of up to Mach 2.2 or 2,336 km/h at high altitude. On the other hand, the F-16 Falcon - manufactured by General Dynamics - now Lockheed Martin - for the US Air Force is comparatively slower. It can reach a top speed of over Mach 2.

The Mirage 2000 has nine hardpoints for transporting weapons and a combat range of 1,850 km. The F-16, however, has more weapons storage capacity than the Mirage.

In terms of climb speed, the Mirage trumps the F-16. While the Mirage has a maximum climb rate of 60,000 feet per minute, the F-16 apparently manages 50,000 feet per minute.

Additionally, the F-16 has a combat radius of up to 1,370 km with two bombs weighing approximately 907 kg each while the Mirage can travel 1,475 km with four 250 kg bombs.


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