Hellenic Air Force To Deploy Same Fighter Jets That India Used Against Pakistan Two Decades Ago

Twenty-one years after the Mirage 2000s proved its might in the Kargil conflict fought between India and Pakistan, Greece is reportedly set to deploy the same fighter jets as tensions rise with Turkey. 

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The Greek local media reported that the French origin fighters will undergo repairs and maintenance procedures after which they will be used to guard the Greek skies. With a growing threat from its Mediterranian neighbor, the Hellenic Air Force (HAF) is ramping up its preparedness to counter Erdogan’s Turkey.

As reported earlier by EurAsian Times citing various media reports, Greece could add a squadron of Rafale fighters jets for its fleet. The contract between the French and Greek governments is at an advanced stage and is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

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The Hellenic Air Force bought a fleet of Mirage 2000 multi-role fighters, the deliveries of which began in 1988. According to local media reports, it has 18 Mirage 2000 and 25 Mirage 2000-5 which will receive support as the contract was approved by the Court of Auditors.

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The report added that three support companies, Dassault, Thales, and Safran are expected to submit their bids to the General Directorate of Armaments of the Ministry of Defense. It further said that the repairs and maintenance of the French origin fighters will be carried out inside the units. 

Tensions between Ankara and Athens have been soaring and encounters between Greek and Turkish fighter jets have become common in the air over the Aegean Sea. In a video released in May, a close encounter between two Mirage 2000 and Turkish F-16C over the Aegean Sea can be seen.

HAF Mirages were dispatched to intercept two Turkish F-16s which were allegedly harassing a Greek NH-90 helicopter carrying the Minister of National Defense Nikos Panagiotopoulos and his staff.

The report also translated the audio. “I have him,” the Greek Mirage 2000 pilot who chased one of the Turkish F-16s can be heard in the video.   

Mirage 2000 is a single-engine jet manufactured by Dassault Aviation. It can be armed with missiles including the stealthy MBDA MICA missile, available in both radar-guided and infrared-guided variants. 

Mirage 2000s with Indian Air Force

Deployment of Mirage 2000 by the Indian Air Force (IAF) during the Kargil conflict in 1999 played a crucial role to hit enemy targets.

“The Mirage 2000 proved to be a game-changer in the Kargil War as its deployment by the IAF skewed the asymmetry of the military assets in our favour,” a senior IAF officer had told the PTI.  Experts, that time also claimed that India was technologically superior with Mirage 2000s in comparison to Pakistani F-16 jets.

File Image – Dassault Aviation

F-16 are the same fighters that Turkey currently possesses as well. “Use of Mirage-2000, carrying LGB (laser-guided bombs) took our operation out of the envelope of a Stinger, and the adversary had to change tactics and this proved to be a game-changer,” the officer had stated.

In 2019, the IAF used Mirage 2000s to carry out the “surgical strike” in Balakot, Pakistan. The Indian Mirage fighters crossed the border and dropped bombs claiming to have destroyed terror infrastructure in Balakot, a claim later rejected by Pakistan.

Unlike in the Kargil conflict, Mirage 2000 this time crossed the border which set off the risk of detection. IAF chose the Mirage-2000 fighter jets instead of Sukhoi Su-30MKI, which have a very large radar cross-section. The sources had then said the Mirage 2000 multi-role aircraft was chosen for the strike for its capability to hit targets with “pin-point” accuracy.

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India has now acquired the Rafale jets from Dassault Aviation, France, the makers of Mirage 2000s and Greece also looks set to acquire the Rafale fighters. Both India and Greece, coincidently, are confronting two strongest allies in the region – Pakistan, and Turkey, with both being armed with American F-16 jets.