All eyes were peeled on the Indian Armed Forces ever since February 14. The deadly suicide bombing on the CRPF convoy in Pulwama, in which 40 CRPF personnel were martyred, had the nation in grief. Calls were strong for a definitive retaliation from the Indian side. The Prime Minister had given full freedom for the armed forces to retaliate. While most were expecting a ground assault team to be deployed, The Indian Air Force came into action.

The weapon of choice, the deadly Mirage 2000. The result, multiple terror launchpads destroyed with over 200 confirmed kills.

This is the first time since 1971 that Indian Air Force has penetrated into Pakistan’s Air Space and dealt great damage to the terror outfits. The Mirage also played a decisive role in the 1999 Kargil war, turning it in India’s favor. Two squadrons of Mirage flew a total of 514 sorties that included strike missions and escort missions during Operation Safed Sagar from June–July 1999.

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Development

The Mirage 2000 was developed by Dassault Aviation of France, to replace the Mirage III aircraft of the French Airforce. It is a Multirole Combat Fighter aircraft and is available in either single seat or double seat configuration. There are currently over 600 of them in service worldwide. The aircraft is currently in its 4th generation.

There are multiple variants of the Mirage 2000

  • Mirage 2000C/B – Single seater/ 2 seater for air defense
  • Mirage 2000N – For all weather nuclear penetration
  • Mirage 2000D – Advanced version Mirage 2000N, for automated firing using laser guidance
  • Mirage 2000-5 – This version incorporates advanced avionics, new multiple air-to-ground and air-to-air missile systems aided by Thomson-CSF RDY (Radar Doppler Multi-target) radar

The first flight of the prototype, the Mirage 2000 No. 01 took place in March 1978. It is currently in service in 9 countries viz., France, India, Egypt, Peru, United Arab Emirates, Greece, Taiwan, Qatar, and Brazil.

Mirage in the Indian Air Force

India placed an order for 36 single-seat Mirage 2000H aircraft and 4 twin-seater 2000 TH aircraft in October 1978. This was prompted by Pakistan’s purchase of Lockheed-Martin F-16 Fighters. After the delivery of the first seven aircraft in 1985, India became the first foreign user of the Mirage 2000. India currently has three squadrons of the Mirage 2000.

In 2011, India signed a deal of INR 17547 crore with France to upgrade the entire fleet of its Mirage aircraft to Mirage 2000-5 standards. The upgraded aircraft re-designated the Mirage 2000 I, is virtually a new Mirage 2000 and is incomparable to the ones delivered back in 1985.

The most important component of this upgrade is the Thales RDY 2 Radar, that allows for very long range engagement of air targets. In addition, it allows for automatic tracking of targets, mapping of targets on the ground using Doppler beam-sharpening techniques, and to track and engage targets which are moving on the ground.

Another key component is the in-helmet display. It allows the pilot to see the superimposed radar data without having to reference any other displays. In terms of real-world performance, this enables the pilot to direct the weapons by merely pointing their heads towards the target direction. i.e. See the target, Lock the target, Fire.

The upgrade also brought to Mirage 2000 I, the MICA air-to-air missiles. These missiles are capable of engaging targets beyond the visual range and also at close quarters. One missile for multiple jobs. The Government had signed a deal in 2012 with MDBA to procure 450 MICA missiles. The cockpit now has new multi-color displays, multi-function displays, replacing the analog dials.

Mirage 2000
The Mirage 2000
Mirage2000 Specifications

Length: 14.36 m (47 ft 1 in)
Wingspan: 9.13 m (29 ft)
Height: 5.20 m (17 ft)
Empty weight: 7,500 kg
Loaded weight: 13,800 kg
Max. takeoff weight: 17,000 kg

Powerplant

1 SNECMA M53-P2 turbofan engine
Dry thrust: 64.3 kN
Thrust with afterburner: 95.1 kN

Performance

Maximum speed: Mach 2.2 (2,336 km/h)
Range: 1,550 km with drop tanks
Ferry range: 3,335 km with auxiliary fuel
Service ceiling: 60,000 ft
Rate of climb: 60,000 ft/min

Firepower

Guns: 2× 30 mm DEFA 554 revolver cannon
Hardpoints: 9 total (4× under-wing, 5× under-fuselage) with a capacity of 6,300 kg external fuel and ordnance
Rockets: Matra 68 mm unguided rocket pods, 18 rockets per pod
Missiles: Air-to-air and Air-to-Ground capable
Bombs: Capable of carrying both unguided and guided (laser guided)

Avionics
Thales RDY (Radar Doppler Multi-target) 2 radar

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