#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.
All about India's lightening Mirage-2000 fighter jet
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.
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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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.
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."
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.
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.