Mirage 2000: Used For Kargil-1, Kargil-2, Balakot Ops By IAF, France To Send ‘Ground Attack’ Heroes To Ukraine

French President Emmanuel Macron has outlined plans to transfer Mirage 2000-5 fighter jets to Ukraine and train Ukrainian pilots in France. The announcement on June 6 makes the Mirage 2000-5s the second type of Western fighter aircraft slated to join the Ukrainian Air Force after the F-16s. 

“Tomorrow we will launch a new cooperation and announce the transfer of Mirage 2000-5 fighter jets to Ukraine, made by French manufacturer Dassault, and train their Ukrainian pilots in France,” Macron stated in an interview with French TV.

The declaration came after commemorations marking the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy during World War II.

Macron said that the pilot training will commence this summer. “You need normally between five to six months. So, by the end of the year, there will be pilots trained in France,” he added, though he did not specify the number of fighter jets to be delivered.

Highlighting the pressing need for skilled personnel, Macron noted that Ukraine faces a “huge challenge” in training soldiers as it mobilizes tens of thousands more troops for the frontlines.

France will also equip and train an entire brigade of 4,500 Ukrainian soldiers to ensure they are prepared for defense when they return to Ukraine.

Dassault Mirage 2000-5Fs

This development is welcome news for Kyiv, which has been actively seeking advanced combat aircraft from its allies. The move follows the recent announcement that the Ukrainian Air Force will receive Saab 340 airborne early warning and control aircraft from Sweden.

Sweden has been contemplating the transfer of Gripen fighters to Ukraine. However, it was recently reported that other European nations have requested Sweden to pause and focus on the potential transfer of F-16s.

Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, and Belgium are scheduled to supply Kyiv with more than 60 US-manufactured F-16 jets. The combined international efforts aim to enhance Ukraine’s defense capabilities amid the ongoing conflict.

However, this multinational effort has faced delays, especially in pilot training, causing frustration among Ukrainian authorities. On the other hand, Paris has been supporting the coalition’s efforts by providing lead-in training for Ukrainian pilots using Alpha Jet aircraft.

French Mirage 2000-5 Fighters To Strengthen Ukrainian Air Force

French President Macron announced that the jets sent to Ukraine will be Mirage 2000-5s. Unlike the older Mirage 2000Cs or the air-to-ground Mirage 2000D attack jets, these are specialized for air-to-air combat.

This decision is logical given the current status of these aircraft. The French Air Force phased out its last Mirage 2000Cs, dating back to the 1980s, in 2022.

A French official had noted that only 13 Mirage 2000Cs still had limited operational potential. France is upgrading most of its around 80 Mirage 2000Ds for extended use.

On the other hand, the French Air Force operates nearly 30 Mirage 2000-5s, slated for retirement between now and 2029. The anticipated replacement, the new Dassault Rafales, may arrive sooner than expected, potentially expediting the transition process.

With efficient action, France could supply the Ukrainian Air Force with several Mirage 2000-5s. This could either replace an existing Ukrainian fighter brigade or establish a new one, offering substantial support in the ongoing conflict.

The Mirage 2000-5s are equipped with RDY radars, a mechanically scanned pulse-doppler system with look-down/shoot-down capabilities. These radars provide significant enhancements over the older RDI (Radar Doppler à Impulsions, an X-band pulse Doppler radar with a high pulse repetition frequency) and RDM (Radar Doppler Multifunction, a multimode pulse-Doppler radar) radars, including the ability to track multiple targets simultaneously and improved air-to-ground functionalities.

Such features would be particularly advantageous for Ukraine, which faces constant threats from low-flying Russian cruise missiles and kamikaze drones. The Mirage 2000-5s could also be delivered with advanced munitions, such as the MICA beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile.

While primarily optimized for air-to-air combat, the Mirage 2000-5s could also be adapted to deploy air-to-ground weapons that France has already provided to Ukraine, including the SCALP-EG cruise missile and the Hammer rocket-assisted precision-guided bomb.

It was earlier suggested that France would transfer the older 2000C models retired in 2022. Earlier this year, General Mykola Oleshchuk, the commander of the Ukrainian Air Force, made a specific request for the Mirage 2000D aircraft.

Therefore, France cannot rule out the possibility of providing Mirage 2000C or Mirage 2000D aircraft to Ukraine in the future.

The Mirage fighter jet continues to prove its relevance in modern warfare. It has a storied history, deployed during significant conflicts such as the Gulf War, where it provided high-altitude air defense for US Air Force U-2 spy planes. Additionally, the Mirage 2000 supported NATO forces during the Bosnian War and the Kosovo War.

The Mirage 2000 found widespread adoption in the international market, with countries like India, the United Arab Emirates, Taiwan, Greece, Egypt, Brazil, Qatar, and Peru acquiring the aircraft.

India, in particular, extensively utilized the Mirage 2000 in various conflicts. During the Kargil conflict in 1999, Indian Air Force Mirage 2000s played a pivotal role in engaging enemy forces entrenched in the mountainous terrain. They were instrumental in operations on Tiger Hill and Muntho Dhalo.

In February 2019, India overlooked the Su-30 MKI and utilized a fleet of Mirage 2000s equipped with Spice Bombs during the Balakot air strike in response to the Pulwama attack, demonstrating the aircraft’s capability for accurate targeting.

In 2022, the Indian Air Force employed Mirage-2000 multi-role fighters to execute precise ground attack operations using laser-guided bombs to dislodge Pakistani soldiers who had intruded into Indian territory.

Image for Representation: Mirage 2000

According to the Times of India (TOI), IAF officials publicly admitted their role in thrashing Pakistani terrorists from an Indian post in the Gurez-Machal sector in Jammu and Kashmir.

For the ”Kargil-II” operations, the IAF used four Mirage-2000 jets to launch “pin-pointed ground attack operations” with laser-guided bombs to hammer Pakistani soldiers. The TOI report claimed that by the time Pakistani intruders were noticed, they had seized a strategic hill overlooking the Neelam Valley.

We did what we had to. The Army had asked for our help, and we went ahead and did what was required,” said a senior official, responding to questions on the Kargil-II incident. IAF officials said that Pakistan mustered its almost entire air force of 200 frontline fighters in the northern sector facing Punjab, Jammu & Kashmir.

The Pakistan military high command, apart from their six ”main” air bases, had also activated 15 of their satellite bases during the period and boosted the fighter strength facing the IAF”s Western Air Command from 12 to 16 squadrons. “But we were fully prepared to overwhelm them if the directive was given. We had built up a comprehensive structure and also carried out extensive augmentation of our radars,” said an officer, as per Times of India.