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India
22 Nov 2017

#DefenseDiaries: Why the IAF loves the Mirage-2000 fighter jets

The French-made Dassault Mirage-2000 is undoubtedly one of Indian Air Force's (IAF) most versatile and deadliest aircraft.

First commissioned in 1985, the Mirage-2000 has lived up to its name Vajra (lightening in Sanskrit) during IAF operations.

It played a decisive role in India's Kargil conflict victory and is one of two types of IAF aircraft capable of launching nuclear strikes. Here's all about it.

In context

All about India's lightening Mirage-2000 fighter jet

History

Mirage-2000 has seen action in conflicts around the world

The Mirage-2000 made its first flight in 1978.

It developed from the Mirage III and was in many ways a competitor to the US company Lockheed Martin's F-16 fighter jet.

Overall, at least 580 Mirage-2000s across multiple variants were manufactured and flown by eight countries, including India.

The warplane has seen action in conflicts in Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and more.

Specifications

The single-engine aircraft can carry an impressive 14,000lbs of weapons

The Mirage-2000 is a single-engine delta-wing (triangle shaped) fighter jet.

It has a maximum speed of Mach 2.2 and a combat range of nearly 1,000 miles.

It has nine pylons on which it can carry a host of different advanced air-to-air, air-to-surface missiles and bombs, targeting pods, and external fuel tanks.

It can carry 14,000 pounds worth of external equipment, an impressive feat.

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India's acquisition

How India acquired the Mirage-2000

Initially, India ordered 40 Mirage-2000 in 1982 in response to Pakistan's acquisition of the advanced F-16 fighter jets.

India's Hindustan Aeronautics Limited was to license the manufacturing of another 110 of the aircraft with transfer of technology.

This idea was dropped after India bought the MiG-29 from the Soviet Union.

In 1986 and in 2004, India placed orders for 10 more Mirage-2000s, each.

War hero

Mirage-2000 top performing fighter jet during Kargil conflict

In 1999, Mirage-2000s became the IAF's lead fighter in targeting Pakistani intruders in the mountainous Kargil region.

Armed with laser-guided bombs, the Vajra destroyed critical enemy positions at Tiger Hill and the major re-supply base in Batalik.

NDTV defense journalist Vishnu Som wrote, "the surgical strikes by Mirages using laser-guided bombs broke the back of the enemy's supply lines."

Details

India nearly purchased another 126 Mirage-2000

The IAF was very impressed with the its performance during the Kargil conflict and sought to induct another 126 Mirage-2000s in its inventory.

However, this paved the way for the medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) which was canceled to acquire 36 Dassault Rafales, France's replacement for the Mirage-2000.

Besides the Jaguar, the Mirage-2000 is the only other IAF plane capable of delivering nuclear bombs.

Upgrade

Upgrades ensure Mirage-2000 will serve India beyond 2030

Over three decades since their induction, the IAF continues to rely on the Mirages.

In 2011, the IAF signed a $2.2 billion deal to upgrade its entire fleet of 51 aircraft.

These upgraded aircraft are equipped with brand new state-of-the-art avionics, helmet displays, and the highly advanced French-made MICA beyond visual range missiles.

This ensures India's venerable Mirages continue serving past 2030.

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