Government sources have said on Thursday that the Indian Air Force has acquired two second-hand combat jets, the Mirage 2000 made by Dassault Aviation, from France to boost its already existing fleet at a time when there are growing tensions at the Line of Actual Control.
The aircraft will be upgraded to the latest standards under a programme that has been undertaken by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, sources told ANI.
The news agency quoted government sources as saying, “The Indian Air Force has received two Mirage 2000 trainer version aircraft from France. The two aircraft were flying with their Air Force and arrived at the Gwalior airbase recently.”
What are the Mirage 2000 fighter jets?
According to Airforce-technology.com, which covers the latest industry trends, the aircraft made by Dassault Aviation was first commissioned for the French airforce and took its maiden flight in March 1978.
It is a multirole, single-engine fourth-generation jet fighter and has several variants which are used by several countries including India, UAE, Qatar, Brazil, Taiwan, Greece, Peru and Egypt.
Airforce-technology.com reports that the Mirage 2000 has nine points for carrying weapon system payloads, five on the fuselage and two on each wing. The single-seat version is also armed with two internally mounted, high-firing-rate 30mm guns. The aircraft comes in single-seater or two-seater versions.
What are the weapons it supports?
The Mirage 2000 supports air-to-air weapons. They include the MICA multitarget air-to-air intercept and combat missiles, and the Magic 2 combat missiles, both from MBDA (formed out of a merger between Matra BAe Dynamics, EADS Aerospatiale and Alenia Marconi Systems). MICA supports a maximum operating range of 60 kilometres. The aircraft can carry four MICA missiles, two Magic missiles and three drop tanks simultaneously. The Mirage 2000-5 can fire the MBDA Super 530D missile or the MBDA Sky Flash air-to-air missile as an alternative to the MICA missile.
India’s history with Mirage 2000 aircraft
Mirage 2000 aircraft form three squadrons and are a total of 50 aircraft at the Gwalior airbase. India currently has a fleet of 50 Mirages that are still in service.
The IAF introduced the Mirage 2000H during the Kargil War. On 24 June, 1999, two of the aircraft struck and destroyed the command and control bunkers of Pakistan’s Northern Light Infantry. Pakistan’s military prowess in the war had been significantly dented since the attack, resulting in a victory for India.
During Operation Safed Sagar from June to July 1999, two Mirage squadrons flew a total of 514 sorties. The number one squadron flew air defence and strike escort missions, while the number seven squadron conducted 240 strike missions.
The impressive service of the Mirage 2000 in 1999 prompted the government to approve the purchase of ten Mirage 2000Hs, featuring improved avionics, particularly an upgraded RDM 7 radar.