Mirage-2000: Indonesia Officially Rejects 2nd-Hand Qatari Jets; India Potential Buyer Of Greek Jets?

As previously reported by EurAsian Times, Indonesia has officially discarded plans to acquire second-hand Mirage 2000-5 fighter jets from Qatar, the defense ministry spokesperson confirmed.

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There is no purchase of Mirage jets. Even though it was planned, it has been canceled… meaning there is no active contract,” spokesperson Dahnil Anzar Simanjuntak said in a statement.

Despite being considered outdated compared to modern aircraft, the Mirage fighter jet continues to be operated by several countries, with efforts to extend its operational life through various upgrades.

The Mirage fighter jet has recently attracted attention in the international media for several reasons. One notable instance is Ukraine’s expressed interest in acquiring Mirage aircraft, highlighting the enduring appeal of this French-made fighter despite its age.

Lieutenant General Mykola Oleshchuk, the Chief of Staff of the Ukrainian Air Force, suggested via Telegram on January 14, 2024, that Ukraine is actively contemplating the acquisition of Mirage-2000D fighter jets from France to strengthen its fleet’s strike capabilities. 

The Mirage-2000D (Diversified) iteration represents a modernized twin-seat adaptation of the multirole combat aircraft engineered by Dassault Aviation during the 1970s, uniquely tailored for executing extended-range precision strike missions utilizing conventional armaments. 

Similarly, in 2023, Indonesia made headlines with its decision to procure second-hand Mirage jets from Qatar. The decision to acquire the Qatari fleet was motivated by the need for an interim fleet to bridge the gap until their new Rafale jets were delivered. 

While the Indonesian government has now quashed the purchase, the move still underscores the continued relevance of the Mirage in the global defense market as countries seek cost-effective solutions to bolster their air capabilities. 

India Looking At Mirage-2000 Jets?

The Hellenic Air Force (HAF) has initiated efforts to offload 18 Mirage-2000 EGM/BGM fighters that have been retired from service following the introduction of the Rafale, with a keen interest in striking a deal with India.

These developments, as reported by Greek news outlet Kathimerini, shed light on the fate of aircraft previously operational under the 332nd Fighter Squadron (Falcons), which saw their active duty tenure conclude in 2022 with the advent of Rafale fighters into the HAF fleet. 

The decision to divest these Mirage-2000 fighters, once integral to the HAF’s aerial capabilities, stems from the need to prevent further deterioration and eventual scrapping due to prolonged immobilization.  

Of the original 40 Mirage-2000 units procured by the HAF in 1988, only ten were upgraded to the Mirage-2000-5 standard, while the remaining aircraft remained inactive at Tanagra Air Base. 

Moreover, the prominence of US-made F-16s in the HAF’s fleet marginalized the operational role of Mirage-2000s, leading to their eventual retirement. 

The report also noted that the Mirage-2000s of the 332nd Squadron had longstanding availability issues, with some aircraft requiring parts from others through cannibalization to remain operational. 

The HAF’s decision to sell these decommissioned Mirage-2000s comes amid efforts to strengthen defense ties with India. India is a potential buyer for these retired Mirage-2000 jets, with the Indian Air Force (IAF) currently maintaining approximately 50 operational Mirage-2000 aircraft across three fighter squadrons. 

India’s interest in acquiring used Mirage-2000s is driven by the need to replenish its fleet following aircraft losses due to accidents and using the ‘much needed’ spare parts. 

India plans to extend the service life of these Mirage-2000s until the next decade, when they will be phased out in favor of the indigenous Tejas MkII fighter jet. The second-hand Mirage-2000s could also guarantee an adequate supply of spare parts for the existing fleet. 

Athens sees the potential sale of these Mirage aircraft to India as an economic opportunity and a means to enhance diplomatic relations between the two countries. While the Mirage-2000s are estimated to fetch only a few million Euros due to their poor condition, Athens believes the political benefits of strengthening ties with India outweigh the limited economic gains. 

Both parties are now engaged in discussions, with the HAF hopeful that India will emerge as a suitable buyer for its decommissioned Mirage-2000 fighters.

Meanwhile, the Greek Air Force is also evaluating the future of its newer Mirage-2000-5 aircraft, currently in service with the 331 Squadron ‘Theseus.’ 

Designed for air superiority, the Mirage-2000-5 variant faces challenges in keeping pace with modern network-centric operations despite some upgrades over time, as reported by Kathimerini. 

The planned implementation of Link-16 terminals, aimed at improving communication with other aircraft, has been delayed due to concerns regarding cost and effectiveness. 

In light of this situation, Hellenic Air Force (HAF) commanders are contemplating selling the 24 Mirage-2000-5s. At the same time, they are still operational and possess sufficient remaining flight hours to fund the procurement of additional Rafale aircraft. 

Should a decision be made to sell them, India is considered a potential preferred destination for the Hellenic deltas.

Allure Of The Mirage

Colonel Konstantinos Zikidis, an Electronics Engineer with the Hellenic Air Force Academy, detailed to EurAsian Times the primary operational benefits of the Mirage-2000. 

Colonel Zikidis, who has hands-on experience with both the Mirage F1CG and the Mirage-2000 EGM/BGM at the squadron level, commented, “The Mirage 2000 was designed in the 1970s by Avions Marcel Dassault-Breguet Aviation (AMD-BA), using the concept of the delta wing, primarily as an air interceptor, with a secondary ground attack role.

“The French followed a relatively conservative approach, requiring a safety factor of 5 concerning the fatigue strength (as per «Norme AIR 2004/D or E»), while selecting the single-shaft SNECMA M53 turbofan, favoring simplicity and reliability instead of performance. However, the aircraft design and a redundant fly-by-wire system offered excellent handling, especially at high altitude and speed.”

He further explained, “The Mirage 2000-5 Mk2/I/TI is a superb aircraft, combining excellent handling, nose authority, speed, quick reaction time (in less than 5 minutes), a powerful radar (RDY-2/-3), top-notch weapons (MICA EM/IR, SCALP EG, glide bombs, etc), and a very efficient self-protection system, with reliability, extreme structure strength, ease of maintenance, and moderate costs.”

File Image: Mirage-2000

He noted that while the Rafale is superior, it also incurs significantly higher costs in terms of acquisition and operational expenses compared to the Mirage. 

About the sturdiness of the aircraft, Colonel Zikidis drew attention to an incident from 1991 involving a Mirage-2000 of the Hellenic Air Force (Serial Number 215). 

He said, “In 1991, one Mirage-2000 of the Hellenic Air Force (S/N 215) had an issue with its engine. The pilot aligned the aircraft course with train rails and ejected safely, and the aircraft landed itself on the train rails! Subsequently, the aircraft was repaired (we replaced the wings), and it flew for another three decades!”

Colonel Zikidis recounted another incident from 1997 when a Greek pilot experienced spatial disorientation during a nighttime flight and executed an almost flawless landing on the sea. 

“However, the aircraft sank, and unfortunately, the pilot drowned (he did not eject, and he remained tied to his seat). After three days, we took the aircraft (S/N 210) out of the sea. There was a special process to inhibit corrosion, and the aircraft was checked for structural damage without any found! He added that it was repaired in France some years later and flew for another two decades!” he added.