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Mirage 2000-5 / Illustrative photo credit: Armée de l'Air et de l'Espace

​Mirage 2000-5: What the French Fighter Can and Cannot Do, A Sober Glance Without Exaggeration

Mirage 2000-5 / Illustrative photo credit: Armée de l'Air et de l'Espace
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Mirage 2000-5 belongs to the 4+ generation fighters, but this is exactly the situation where the armament of the aircraft is the deciding factor. All about the capabilities, specs, and features of the French fighter jet

Despite the talks about the possibility of French Mirage 2000 fighters reinforcing the Ukrainian Air Force have been going on for more than a year now, it is only recently that the idea has finally received not just confirmation but also an exact date.

Yesterday, June 6, President of France Emmanuel Macronofficially announced the transfer of Mirage 2000-5 fighter jets to Ukraine by the end of 2024. The associated training program for pilots and technicians will take half a year and will start soon. In addition to the fighter jets, France will provide training and equip a Ukrainian brigade numbering 4,500 soldiers.

Read more: France Will Give Ukraine the Mirage 2000 Fighters and Training
Squadron on Mirage 2000-5 / Defense Express / Mirage 2000-5: What the French Fighter Can and Cannot Do, A Sober Glance Without Exaggeration
Squadron on Mirage 2000-5 / Illustrative photo credit: Armée de l'Air et de l'Espace

Thus, Mirage 2000-5 will officially become the second type of Western aircraft in service with the Ukrainian military after F-16. Moreover, the supply of these two will proceed simultaneously, in contrast to the issue with JAS-39 Gripen.

Against this background, it is important to understand which tasks the Mirage 2000-5 can perform effectively and which cannot. If we assume France will hand over its own aircraft, the number could reach around 30 units. It follows from the announcement that Paris will give all of its decommissioned weapons to Ukraine,

More specifically, the French can offer 27 single-seater Mirage 2000-5 and 7 two-seater Mirage 2000B, operated in two squadrons 1/2 Cigognes and 3/11 Corse of the French Air Force.

These aircraft are thorough upgrades of the Dassault Mirage 2000, which performed its first flight in 1978, a year after the Soviet MiG-29.

In general, they fall into the light single-engine fighter category. Then, the Mirage 2000-5 version specifically got the ability to strike ground targets with precision-guided weapons, that is, it became a full-fledged representative of the 4+ generation of fighters.

Mirage 2000-5 / Defense Express / Mirage 2000-5: What the French Fighter Can and Cannot Do, A Sober Glance Without Exaggeration
Mirage 2000-5 / Illustrative photo credit: Armée de l'Air et de l'Espace

The Mirage 2000-5 version was developed in the early 1990s, the goal was to update the aircraft's cockpit systems. The supply of aircraft produced in series began in 1997.

Objectively, the most important thing is that the fighter received a new RDY radar from Thales. The system can detect a typical target within a 130-km range, simultaneously track eight targets, and engage with fire four of them. A distinct feature of this radar is the high-quality recognition of targets on the ground.

Added to the aircraft's weapon arsenal was the cutting-edge (at that time) MICA air-to-air missile from MBDA with a declared range of up to 80 km. The missiles are produced in two versions: with infrared and active radar homing heads.

MICA missiles under the Mirage 2000-5 / Defense Express / Mirage 2000-5: What the French Fighter Can and Cannot Do, A Sober Glance Without Exaggeration
MICA missiles under the Mirage 2000-5 / Illustrative photo credit: Armée de l'Air

In naval warfare, Mirage 2000-5 employs the Exocet anti-ship missile, then there's the SCALP cruise missile for long-range land attacks, and the AS37 Armat anti-radar missile with a flight range of up to 120 km.

The fighter can use precision-guided bombs with semi-active laser guidance thanks to target designation provided by the TV/CT CLDP targeting pod from Thales. Of course, ordinary bombs, and unguided rockets are all available, too, same goes for the two 30mm automatic guns with a magazine of 125 shots per barrel. Fully equipped for a mission, Mirage can take up to 6,300 kg of weapons mounted to the 9 suspension nodes.

Defense Express / Mirage 2000-5: What the French Fighter Can and Cannot Do, A Sober Glance Without Exaggeration
Illustrative photo credit: Armée de l'Air et de l'Espace

The aircraft also received a built-in ICMS Mk 2 electronic warfare system, as well as a Samir DDM threat warning system. The cabin was digitalized with the installation of multifunctional displays.

The Mirage 2000-5 has a wingspan of 9.13 meters and an empty weight of 7,257 kg (optimal take-off weight is 9,525 kg). A thrust-to-weight ratio of 0.93 is provided by the SNECMA M53-P20 engine with a thrust of 98.06 kN at afterburner. Maximum speed is 2,340 km/h, service ceiling is 16,764 m, operational range is 1,770 km.

So when you look closely at the Mirage 2000-5, in terms of capabilities and what it can do, it's the available weapons that make all the difference. In contrast, the AIM-120 AMRAAM, which in the C-8 version has an impressive range of 160 km, is not integrated with this aircraft, although has a chance to arrive in Ukraine alongside the F-16.

Against this backdrop, the 80-km range of the MICA air-to-air missile compatible with Mirage is only comparable to the AIM-120 in its very early versions.

Defense Express / Mirage 2000-5: What the French Fighter Can and Cannot Do, A Sober Glance Without Exaggeration
Illustrative photo credit: Armée de l'Air et de l'Espace

This means that the Mirage 2000-5 is unlikely to be effective as a means of scaring the russian tactical aircraft off the frontlines. At the same time, this aircraft has equally important missions where it can prove exceptionally effective.

First of all, this is the task of launching standoff strikes with long-range weapons, particularly Storm Shadow / SCALP cruise missiles. Or the mentioned Exocet which in new versions features the ability to hit ground targets, too; its original anti-ship capability can also be quite suitable for attacking objects with noticeable radar cross-section stationed near the coast. In addition, the aircraft can attack the enemy surveillance and air defense radars using the AS37 Armat.

Secondly, Mirage can take an active part in tactical missions. For instance, launch standoff glide bombs like the AASM Hammer on enemy positions. Also, integration of other types of bombs — JDAM-ER and SDB — should be no problem either.

Defense Express / Mirage 2000-5: What the French Fighter Can and Cannot Do, A Sober Glance Without Exaggeration
Illustrative photo credit: Armée de l'Air et de l'Espace

The third important role is providing air defense cover for the rear areas of Ukraine. After all, Ukraine is a vast country, and the Mirage 2000-5 can perfectly cope with the task of intercepting incoming russian cruise missiles and Shaheds. Not only the MICA can help in that matter but also the Matra R550 Magic, a frankly old yet still capable air-to-air short-range missile.

In summary, in this paradigm of generalized four types of missions, Mirage 2000-5 is capable of performing three of them. That makes these French fighters a more than significant boost to the capabilities of the Ukrainian Air Force at performing specific missions and the Armed Forces of Ukraine in general on an operational level.

Read more: Politico: Ukraine Calls on the US and Partners to Intensify F-16 Pilot Training