Dassault Mirage 2000

A Mirage 2000H (known locally as Vajra – Thunderbolt) of No.1 ‘The Tigers’ Squadron, Central Air Command, Indian Air Force, based at Maharajpura Air Force Station, Gwailor, in the 1990s. A former MiG-21 unit, No.1 Squadron was the second IAF Mirage 2000 operator after No.7 Squadron.

A Mirage 2000C of the 5e Escadre de Chasse, as it appeared during Operation Daguet, France’s contribution to the 1991 Gulf War. The aircraft was one of 14 based in Al Ahsa, Saudi Arabia.

Targeting Pods While the first air-to-ground version of the Mirage 2000, the Mirage 2000N, was not initially equipped with a targeting pod, this omission was addressed in the conventional-optimized Mirage 2000D. The first targeting pods for this model were the PDL-CT (Pod de Désignation Laser-Caméra Thermique) that provided thermal imaging designation, and the ATLIS day-only system. These were supplemented by the PDL-CTS fitted with the improved Synergie infra-red sensor for a 40 per cent increase in image resolution. Most recently, the Mirage 2000D has added the advanced Damoclès MP laser-designation pod. Meanwhile, Indian Mirage 2000s are fitted with the Israeli Litening laser designation pod. The most advanced Mirage, the UAE’s Mirage 2000-9, includes the Damoclès pod (known as Shehab) used in conjunction with a forward-looking infra-red pylon (Nahar).

Continuing the tradition of delta-winged Dassault fighters, the Mirage 2000 brought the family up to date and established itself not only as the backbone of the French Air Force but also as a genuine success on the export market. The basic fighter has been adapted for roles including nuclear strike and conventional attack.

While the Mirage 2000 bears superficial resemblance to the dynasty of delta-winged fighters that preceded it, the new fighter combined this configuration with negative longitudinal stability and a fly-by-wire control system, the result being a vast improvement on the previous generation of Dassault warplanes. Retaining a delta wing meant considerable lift, low drag and plenty of internal volume for fuel and avionics, while the computer-based flight controls ensured the aircraft was more agile, handled better at low speed and landed at a more manageable velocity.

The Mirage 2000 can be traced back to an in-house Dassault project, the Mirage 1000 of 1972. In 1975 a planned Dassault Avion de Combat Futur (ACF) was cancelled and a new official specification had to be drafted. This was issued in 1976 and thus began a high-priority programme for a new interceptor fighter to enter service in 1982. Powered by an 83.36kN (18,839lb) thrust SNECMA M53 turbofan, the first prototype made a maiden flight in March 1978. In its initial production form, the Mirage 2000C for the French Air Force featured a broader-chord tailfin and trailing edge root fairings. More importantly, thrust was boosted to 88.26kN (19,842lb) thanks to a new M53-5 engine. First deliveries took place in April 1983.

Complementing the single-seat Mirage 2000C was the two-seat Mirage 2000B conversion trainer, first flown in 1983. With marginally increased length, the Mirage 2000B suffered a reduction in fuel capacity and had both cannon deleted. A total of 32 Mirage 2000Bs were completed for France, together with 121 Mirage 2000Cs. Although the RDM radar and Super 530F air-to-air missiles were originally fitted, both variants were eventually equipped with the RDI radar providing continuous-wave illumination for the Super 530D missile and improved look-down/ shoot-down capability. As production continued, the M53-5 engine was superseded by the 95.12kN (21,384lb) thrust M52-P2.

In 1979 Dassault received a contract to produce two prototypes of a nuclear strike version, which became the Mirage 2000N. Based on the two-seat Mirage 2000B airframe, this features an airframe strengthened for low-level operations, and attack avionics based around the Antilope 5 radar. The primary weapon is the ASMP standoff nuclear missile. A total of 75 Mirage 2000Ns were built for the French Air Force and the type achieved initial operational capability in 1988.

Post-Cold War, the French Air Force was presented with an increased requirement for conventional strike aircraft, leading to the development of the Mirage 2000D, which is otherwise similar to the Mirage 2000C. First flown in 1991, a total of 75 Mirage 2000Ds were delivered.

The original Mirage 2000B/C became a major export success, the first of which was the Mirage 2000EM/BM for Egypt, with M53-P2 engine and the earlier RDM radar modified for use with the Super 530D intercept missile. India’s Mirage 2000H/TH is powered by the M53-5, later replaced by the M53-P2, and also has Super 530D capability. Peru obtained the Mirage 2000P/DP. The United Arab Emirates ordered Mirage 2000EAD multi-role fighters, Mirage 2000RAD reconnaissance aircraft and Mirage 2000DAD combat trainers. The ‘first generation’ Greek version was the Mirage 2000EG/BG.

The first of the ‘second generation’ Mirage 2000s was the Mirage 2000-5, designed as an export-optimized multi-role warplane and first flown in 1990. Initially tested as a two-seater, the Dash 5 was subsequently joined by a single-seater. The main feature of the Dash 5 is the Thales RDY multi-mode radar, complemented by a modernized cockpit, improved self-defence suite, the new MICA air-to-air missile and a wide range of guided and unguided air-to-surface ordnance. The first customer was Taiwan (Mirage 2000-5EI and -5DI), followed by Qatar (Mirage 2000-5EDA and -5DDA). The French Air Force, meanwhile, elected to upgrade 37 of its Mirage 2000Cs to a similar standard, thereby producing the Mirage 2000-5F.

The export line was further advanced with the appearance of the Mirage 2000-9, and the essentially similar Mirage 2000-5 Mk 2. Compared to the Dash 5, these introduced the RDY-2 standard radar. The initial customer for the Mk 2 was Greece, followed by the United Arab Emirates (Mirage 2000-9). Both Greece and the UAE also decided to upgrade a number of Mirage 2000s previously delivered to these same advanced standards.

Variants

Mirage 2000C

Upgrades include the addition of the Non-Cooperative Target Recognition (NCTR) mode to the RDI Radar to allow identification of airborne targets not responding on identification friend or foe (IFF), and the ability to carry air-to-ground stores such as rocket pods, iron bombs and cluster bombs. Some variants, especially those equipped with the RDM radar (mainly used in export models) have the capability to use the Exocet anti-ship missile.

Mirage 2000B

The Mirage 2000B is a two-seat operational conversion trainer variant which first flew on 11 October 1980. The French Air Force acquired 30 Mirage 2000Bs, and all three AdA fighter wings each obtained several of them for conversion training.

Mirage 2000N

The Mirage 2000N is the nuclear strike variant which was intended to carry the Air-Sol Moyenne Portée nuclear stand-off missile. The variant was retired on 21 June 2018.

Mirage 2000D

The Mirage 2000D is a dedicated conventional attack variant developed from the Mirage 2000N.

Mirage 2000-5F

First major upgrade over the Mirage 2000C. Replaces most cockpit displays with several large multi-function displays, and upgrading the stores-to-aircraft interface for the use of targeting pods and a wide variety of guided air-to-ground weapons, as well as a radar upgrade to provide guidance information for MICA missiles.

Mirage 2000-5 Mark 2

Dassault further improved the Mirage 2000-5, creating the Mirage 2000-5 Mark 2 which is currently the most advanced variant of the Mirage 2000.

Mirage 2000E

“Mirage 2000E” was a blanket designation for a series of export variants of the Mirage 2000. These aircraft were fitted the M53-P2 engine and an enhanced “RDM+” radar, and all can carry the day-only ATLIS II laser targeting pod.

Mirage 2000M

The Mirage 2000M is the version purchased by Egypt. Two-seat Mirage 2000BM trainers were also ordered.

Mirage 2000H, 2000TH

Designation of two-seat trainers and single-seat fighters for India. Indian Mirage 2000s have been integrated to carry the Russian R-73AE Archer missile as of 2007. The Mirage 2000TH is a twin-seat trainer version.

Mirage 2000I, 2000TI

It is an Indian specific version single/twin-seater fighter for the Indian Air Force similar to Mirage 2000-5 Mk2 equipped with Indian French and Israeli avionics and weapon packages. Its contract was signed in 2011 and first upgraded aircraft was delivered in 2015. Dassault aviation will upgrade initial few planes Mirage 2000H, 2000TH to 2000I, 2000TI later by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.

Mirage 2000P

Peru placed an order for 10 single-seat Mirage 2000Ps and 2 Mirage 2000DP trainers.

Mirage 2000-5EI

Of the 60 Mirage 2000s Taiwan ordered in 1992, the Republic of China Air Force (ROCAF) would receive 48 single-seat Mirage 2000-5EI interceptors and 12 Mirage 2000-5DI trainers. This version of Mirage 2000-5 had the mid-air refuel ability as well as its ground attack ability deleted.

Mirage 2000-5EDA

In 1994, Qatar ordered nine single-seat Mirage 2000-5EDAs and three Mirage 2000-5DDA trainers, with initial deliveries starting in late 1997.

A UAE Mirage 2000 multi-role fighter

Mirage 2000EAD/RAD

In 1983, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) purchased 22 single-seat Mirage 2000EADs, 8 unique single-seat Mirage 2000RAD reconnaissance variants, and 6 Mirage 2000DAD trainers, for a total order of 36 aircraft.

The Mirage 2000RAD reconnaissance variant does not have any built-in cameras or sensors, and the aircraft can still be operated in air combat or strike roles. The reconnaissance systems are implemented in pods produced by Thales and Dassault. The UAE is the only nation operating such a specialised reconnaissance variant of the Mirage 2000 at this time.

Mirage 2000EG

In March 1985, Greece ordered 30 single-seat Mirage 2000EGs and 10 Mirage 2000BG two-seat trainers, equipped with RDM radars and M53P2 engines, mainly for interception/air defence roles, although the ability to use air-to-ground armaments was retained. After the Talos modernisation project, during which variant aircraft received updated sensors and avionics, as well as new anti-ship and air-to-air weapons, and were redesignated Mirage 2000EGM.

Mirage 2000BR

A variant of the Mirage 2000-9 for Brazil that did not materialise.

Mirage 2000-9

Mirage 2000-9 is the export variant of Mirage 2000-5 Mk.2. The UAE was the launch customer, ordering 32 new-build aircraft, comprising 20 Mirage 2000-9 single-seaters and 12 Mirage 2000-9D two-seaters. A further 30 of Abu Dhabi’s older Mirage 2000s will also be upgraded to Mirage 2000-9 standard.

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