|A Mirage 2000C of the French Air Force|
|First flight||10 March 1978|
|Primary users||French Air Force|
Indian Air Force
United Arab Emirates Air Force
Republic of China Air Force
|Unit cost||US$23 million|
|Developed from||Dassault Mirage III|
|Variants||Dassault Mirage 2000N/2000D|
Dassault Mirage 4000
The Mirage 2000 evolved from a series of Dassault projects performed from 1965 to 1975. The first in this series was a project known as the "Anglo-French Variable Geometry" (AFVG) swing-wing aircraft, begun in 1965. The collaboration was a fiasco, with the French pulling out in 1967. The British stayed with the concept and formed another collaboration with the Germans and Italians, which eventually produced the Panavia Tornado multirole combat aircraft.
Dassault then worked on several new concepts evolved from the "Mirage G" variable-geometry experimental prototype, resulting in a sophisticated design with the designation "Avion de Combat Futur (ACF / Future Combat Aircraft)". The French Air Force developed a requirement for developing the Avion de Combat Futur (ACF) (French: "Future combat aircraft") in the early 1970s.Dassault offered its twin-engine Super Mirage for the ACF requirement. However, the Super Mirage was to be too costly and was canceled in 1975.
Mirage 2000 project
Dassault had been working on other fighter options in the meantime, partly because the export potential of the ACF was not promising. These alternatives were smaller, simpler, and cheaper than the ACF, and took the form of a number of "Mini-Mirage (Mimi)" concepts. These concepts congealed into an aircraft known at first as the "Super Mirage III", then the "Delta 1000", "Delta 2000", "Super Mirage 2000", and finally just "Mirage 2000"The ACF was a strike aircraft first and an interceptor second, while the Mirage 2000 was exactly the reverse, but the Mirage 2000 was much more affordable. So When the ACF was cancelled, Dassault offered the single-engine Mirage 2000 as an alternative and was given approval to proceed by the French government on 18 December 1975. This was a return to the first generation Mirages, but with several important innovations that tried to solve their shortcomings. Project chiefs were B.C. Valliéres, J.Cabrière, J.C. Veber and B.Revellin-Falcoz.
There was another important reason for Dassault to push the Mirage 2000. Development of this small aircraft would also give the company a competitor to the General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon, which had defeated the Dassault Mirage F1 in a contest for a new fighter for the air forces of Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands and Norway. Small single-engined fighters were clearly the most appreciated by foreign customers, as experience with the larger, twin-engined Mirage 4000 would show.
Radar development was critical in the Mirage 2000 project. Despite many obstacles, Marcel Dassault felt that a prototype could be flying in a year and a half, with operational introduction in 1982. In fact, the program was delayed, but by the standards of modern defense programs it was not all that big a schedule slip.
The prototype made its first flight in 10 March 1978 with test pilot Jean Coreau at the controls. Despite all the new technologies applied, basing the new aircraft on the Mirage III allowed the development of a prototype in only 27 months from the program start to the first flight.]
In that summer, at the Farnborough Airshow, this machine displayed not only excellent handling capabilities, but also a full control at 204 km/h and 26 degree angle of attack. This was totally unexpected in a delta-wing fighter, and proved how CCD controls were capable of overcoming the delta wing shortcomings related to poor low-speed control, while retaining the advantages, such as low-drag, low radar cross section, ideal high speed aerodynamics and simplicity, provided by the absence of horizontal tail surfaces. The Mirage 2000 was one of the stars of that airshow and became the direct adversary for the F-16, which shared the CCD control and relaxed stability. The 02 Prototype followed in 18 September 1978 and 03 in 26 September 1979. After 400 hours of flight, they were sent to CEV (Centre d'Essais en Vol). The 04 Prototype was a demonstrator made by Dassault for its own purposes, and finally the first dual-seat Mirage 2000B flew in 11 October 1980.
The first production example flew on 20 November 1982, and the aircraft went into operational service in November 1982. They were practically pre-production aircraft, because they had no SARH missiles (RDM-1 radar) and the first model of SNECMA 'Super Atar' M-53-2 engine.
The Mirage 2000 features a low-set thin delta wing with cambered section, 58 degrees leading-edge sweep and moderately blended root; area-ruled; two small canard wings, fixed, placed just behind the air intakes. The flight controls on the wings are: four elevons (+15/−30°), four slats.
Its neutral point is in front of its center of gravity, giving the fighter relaxed stability to enhance maneuverability. It incorporated negative stability and fly-by-wire controls with four analog computers. An airbrake is fitted above and below each wing in an arrangement very similar to that of the Mirage III. A noticeably taller tailfin allows the pilot to retain control at higher angles of attack, assisted by the small strakes mounted along each air intake.
A runway arresting hook or a fairing for a brake parachute can be fitted under the tail. The landing roll is reduced by robust carbon brakes. The backward-retracting, steerable nose gear features dual wheels, while the main gear features single wheels and retracts inward into the wings.
A fixed, removable refueling probe can be attached in front of the cockpit, offset slightly to the right of center.
Multi-spar metal wing; elevons have carbon-fiber skins with AG5 light alloy honeycomb structure cores; carbon-fiber/light alloy honeycomb panel covers avionics bay; most of the tailfin and all of the rudder are skinned with boron/epoxy/carbon; the rudder has a light alloy honeycomb core.
Flight control system
The aircraft has a redundant fly-by-wire automatic flight control system, providing a high degree of agility and easier handling, together with stability and precise control in all situations. The fighter's airframe is naturally unstable, and so it is coupled with FBW commands to obtain the best agility; however, in override mode it is still possible to exceed a 270 deg/sec roll rate and allows the aircraft to reach 11 g (within the 12 g structural limit), instead of 9 g when engaged. The system is reliable with no known losses due to its failure.
The aircraft uses a retractable tricycle type landing gear by Messier-Dowty, with twin nosewheels and a single wheel on each main gear. Hydraulic retraction, nosewheels rearward, main units inward. Oleo-pneumatic shock absorbers. Electrohydraulic nosewheel steering (+/-45 degrees). Manual disconnect permits the nosewheel unit to caster through 360 degrees for ground towing. The landing roll was reduced by using robust carbon brakes.
The Mirage 2000 is available as a single-seat or two-seat multi-role fighter. The pilot flies the aircraft by means of a centre stick and left hand throttles, with both incorporating hands-on-throttle-and-stick (HOTAS) controls. The pilot sits on a SEM MB Mk10 zero-zero ejection seat (a license-built version of the British Martin-Baker Mark 10). Unlike in the F-16, the pilot sits in a conventional position, without the steep backward slope of the F-16 seat. The cockpit is quite small, and there is no bubble canopy. Despite this, the cockpit visibility is quite good, but less than the F-16, especially in the 'six o'clock' (rearwards-looking) position.
The instrument panel (in the Mirage 2000 C) is dominated by a Sextant VE-130 Heads Up Display which presents data relating to flight control, navigation, target engagement and weapon firing, and the VMC-180 radar screen located centrally below it. To the lower left is a stores management panel, above which are the navigation instruments and altimeter. The right half of the instrument panel accommodates the engine and systems displays. Located on the left side of the cockpit, just ahead of the throttle, are controls for the communications equipment, including the Have Quick secure radio.
Avionics for the Mirage-2000B/C include the Sagem ULISS 52 inertial navigation system (INS), TRT radio altimeter, Dassault Electronique Type 2084 central digital computer, Digibus digital data bus and Sextant Avionique Type 90 air data computer. The communication equipment package includes the LMT NRAI-7A IFF transponder, IO-300-A marker beacon receiver, TRT ERA 7000 V/UHF com transceiver, TRT ERA 7200 UHF or EAS secure voice communications.
Thomson-CSF RDM multi-mode radar or Dassault Electronique/Thomson-CSF RDI pulse-Doppler radar for the Mirage 2000C/D, each with an operating range of 54 nm (100 km / 62 miles). This unit was an evolution of Cyrano radars, with more modern processing units and look-down/shoot-down capabilities. The effective range is around 60–70 km with modest capabilities against low-level targets. It is linked with Super R.530F missiles, and equipped the first 37 aircraft delivered to the French Air Force and most exported Mirages. It has multirole capabilities that enable its use in air-to-surface tasks, including anti-ship roles. The very early RDM were still not linked with the Super R.530F missiles, but it was solved quickly. Some recent export versions of the aircraft carry the Thales RDY (Radar Doppler Multitarget) developed for the Mirage 2000-5.
The Mirage 2000 is equipped with the Thales Serval Radar warning receiver (RWR) with antennas on the wingtips and on the rear of the top of the tailfin. It is also equipped with the Dassault Sabre RF jammer in a pod below the bottom of the tailfin, with the antenna in a fairing on the front of the tailfin. The Dassault Éclair dispenser system under the tail was eventually replaced by a pair of Matra Spirale dispensers, each fitted on the extensions behind the rear of each wingroot, giving a total capacity of 224 cartridges.
The new and powerful SNECMA M53 afterburning bypass turbojet engine was developed for the ACF, and was available for the Mirage 2000 project. The Mirage 2000 is equipped with a SNECMA M53-5 (first 37 airplanes), or SNECMA M53-P2 low-bypass ratio turbofan engine, depending on the aircraft version, which provides 64 kilonewtons (14,000 lbf) of thrust dry and 98 kilonewtons (22,000 lbf) in afterburner. The air intakes are fitted with an adjustable half-cone-shaped centerbody, which provides an inclined shock of air pressure for highly efficient air intake. Total internal fuel capacity is 3,978 litres (1,051 US gal) in the Mirage 2000C and E, and 3,904 litres (1,031 US gal) in the Mirage 2000B, N, D and S. There are also provisions for a jettisonable 1,300-litre (340 US gal) centerline fuselage fuel tank and for a 1,700-litre (450 US gal) drop tankunder each wing.
Armament and payload
The Mirage 2000 is equipped with built-in twin DEFA 554 (now GIAT 30–550 F4) 30 mm revolver-type cannons with 125 rounds each. The cannons have selectable fire rates of 1,200 or 1,800 rounds per minute. Each round weighs 275 grams (9.7 oz) and has a muzzle velocity of around 800 metres per second (2,600 ft/s).
The Mirage 2000 can carry up to 6.3 tonnes (14,000 lb) (or 7 tonnes for −9 version) of stores on nine pylons, with two pylons on each wing and five under the fuselage. External stores can include Matra Super 530 medium-range semi-active radar-guided air-to-air missile on the inboard wing pylons and underbelly, and Matra Magic short-range infrared-seeking AAM on the outboard wing pylons. Other short-range missiles such as the AIM-9J/L/P are compatible and are often used on Mirages which have been exported, because Magic itself was meant as 'Sidewinder compatible'. The Mirage 2000C and later versions can carry the lighter, more advanced MBDA MICA instead of the Super 530D.
French Mirage 2000s were used during the Gulf War as well as in UN and NATO air operations during the Bosnian War and the Kosovo War. During Operation Deliberate Force, on 30 August 1995, one Mirage 2000D was shot down over Bosnia by a 9K38 Igla shoulder-launched missile fired by air defence units of the Army of Republika Srpska, prompting efforts to obtain improved defensive systems. Both pilots were captured.
Armée de l'Air Mirage 2000Ds later served with the International Security Assistance Force during the conflict in Afghanistan in 2001–2002, operating in close conjunction with international forces and performing precision attacks with laser-guided bombs. In summer 2007, after the Rafale fighters had been removed from the theater of operations, 3 French Mirage 2000s were deployed to Afghanistan in support of NATO troops.
The Mirage 2000 is being replaced in French service by the Dassault Rafale, which became operational with the French Air Force in June 2006.
French Mirage 2000s were committed to enforcing the no-fly zone in Libya as part of Opération Harmattan in 2011.
Egypt was the first export buyer, ordering 16 single-seat Mirage 2000M and four 2000BM trainers in late 1981, with deliveries beginning in 1986. The Egyptians also purchased ATLIS II pods and a wide range of appropriate munitions, including Magic and Super 530 AAMs, AS-30L laser-guided air-to-surface missiles (ASMs), and Armat anti-radiation missiles (ARMs).
One was lost in a training accident. Egypt originally planned to buy another squadron of Mirage-2000 fighters but financial problems prevented this, so Egypt signed a contract with France to upgrade the fighters and they were supplied by new ECM system. Currently Egypt operates 18 Mirage-2000 (82nd fighter squadron of the 252 fighter brigade) at Bir-Kit AFB in multi-role missions using AS-30L laser guided air-ground missiles and free fall bombs. Egyptian Mirage-2000 fighters train on aerial refueling with the French Air Force during several joint training programs.
Greece ordered 32 single-seat Mirage 2000EGs and 8 2000BG two-seat trainers. They featured an "ICMS 1" defensive countermeasures suite, an updated version of the standard Mirage 2000C countermeasures suite, characterized by two small antennas near the top of the tailfin. These Mirage 2000s were later modified to carry the Aerospatiale AM39 Exocet antiship missile. In 2000, Greece ordered a batch of 25 Mirage 2000-5 Mark 2 fighters. The order included 15 new-build aircraft and 10 upgrades from existing Mirage 2000EG, with aircraft featuring the SATURN secure radio. The Mirage 2000 production line was shut down in 2007 after the last aircraft was delivered to Greece in November 2007.
On 8 October 1996, 7 months after the escalation over Imia/Kardak a Greek Mirage 2000 fired an R550 Magic II and shot down a Turkish F-16D over the Aegean Sea. The Turkish pilot died, while the co-pilot ejected and was rescued by Greek forces.
The only visual difference between the Mirage 2000-5 Mk 2 and the existing Mirage 2000EGM/BGM planes is a fixed IFR probe near the canopy. Mirage 2000-5 Mk 2 and 2000EG operate with 332 Squadron and 331 Squadron of 114 Combat Wing, based at Tanagra.
IAF purchased 49 Mirage 2000s, including 42 single-seaters and 7 two-seaters in the 1980s. In 2004, the Indian government approved purchase of ten more Mirage 2000Hs, featuring improved avionics, particularly an upgraded RDM 7 radar. The IAF named the Mirage the "Vajra" (Sanskrit: वज्र, for Thunderbolt). India also purchased appropriate stores along with the fighters, including ATLIS II pods and laser-guided weapons.
In 2006 it was reported that the Indian Air Force was close to finalizing a EUR 1.5 billion (about $2 billion) deal to upgrade its fleet of 51 Mirage-2000 ‘Vajra’ fighter jets. The aim was to give the aircraft more capabilities, bringing them to Mirage 2000-5 Mk 2 standard, and extending its useful life for another 20–25 years. The contract has been signed in 2011. India has assigned the nuclear strike role to its Mirage 2000 squadrons in service with the Indian Air Force (IAF) since 1985. In 1999 when the Kargil conflict broke out, the Mirage 2000 performed remarkably well during the whole conflict in the high Himalayas, even though the Mirages supplied to India had limited air interdiction capability and had to be heavily modified to drop laser-guided bombs as well as conventional unguided bombs. Two Mirage squadrons flew a total of 515 sorties, and in 240 strike missions dropped 55,000 kg (120,000 lb) of ordnance. Easy maintenance and a very high sortie rate made the Mirage 2000 one of the most efficient fighters of the IAF in the conflict. There are reports that the IAF qualified Soviet-designed missiles with the Mirage 2000, such as the R-27 (NATO AA-10 Alamo) AAM. In July 2011, India approved an $3 billion upgrade to its entire Mirage 2000 fleet and for over 400 MICA missiles.One of the two seat trainer versions crashed on 25 February 2012, another two seat version crashed on 5 March 2012. The plane was on a routine sortie.
Peru purchased 10 single-seat Mirage 2000P and two 2000DP trainers. The Peruvians ordered a set of munitions similar to that ordered by Egypt, along with ATLIS II targeting pods. The Peruvian Air Force flew Combat air patrol missions with its Mirage 2000 during the Cenepa war in 1995.
Republic of China (Taiwan)
In 1992, the Taiwanese Air Force ordered 48 single-seat "Mirage 2000-5EIs" and 12 "Mirage 2000-5DI" trainers, with introduction of the first squadron in 1997 and the last fighters delivered in 1998. Taiwanese ordered a set of ASTAC electronic intelligence (ELINT) pods for their Mirages.
Republic of China Air Force (ROCAF) has used its Mirage 2000-5EIs in weapons testing and exercises. On 8 May 1998, a two-seat DI fired one MICA missile and successfully hit a target drone 67 km away. It was the first launch of the said missile outside France. The second MICAlive fire exercise took place off the east coast of Taiwan on 29 March 2000.
On 21 July 2004, two Mirage 2000-5s from the 2nd TFW landed on the wartime reserve runway located at the Jenteh section of Highway No. 1 as part of the annual Han Kuang No. 20 Exercise. Mirage 2000-5DI 2051, piloted by Maj. Wei-Kuang Chang and Lt. Col. Juei-Chi Duan, and 2054, piloted by Lt. Col. Bin-Fu Wu and Capt. Jien-Liang Chen, took off from their home base Hsinchu Air Base. The two jets landed on the highway then taxied to the other end of the reserve runway to be refueled and re-armed with two Magic air-to-air missiles then shortly took off again.
In March 2010 it was reported that the Republic of China had been provided over $3 million worth of parts and maintenance service because of an engine flaw in its Mirage 2000s. The engines had cracks in its blades which caused the air force to reduce flight usage.
United Arab Emirates
UAE purchased 22 single-seat Mirage 2000EAD; eight unique single-seat reconnaissance variants designated Mirage 2000RAD; and 6 Mirage 2000DAD trainers. The order specified an Italian-made defensive avionics suite that delayed delivery of the first of these aircraft until 1989.
Some years later UAE ordered 20 single-seaters Mirage 2000-9 and 12 two-seater 2000-9Ds. These were equipped with a classified countermeasures system designated IMEWS. Initial deliveries of the UAE Mirages were in the spring of 2003. 30 of the older Mirage 2000EADs were also upgraded to Mirage 2000-9 capability.
The UAE Mirage 2000-9s use the Shehab laser targeting pod and the Nahar navigation pod, complementing the air-to-ground modes of the RDY-2 radar. The UAE is also obtaining the Black Shahine cruise missile, a variant of the APACHE.] All 30 survivors of this first batch have been extensively refurbished and upgraded, bringing them to the same standard as Mirage 2000-9.
United Arab Emirates Mirage 2000s flew in the Gulf War of 1991, but saw little action. Six Mirage 2000s were to participate in the enforcement of the no-fly zone over Libya.
Currently, the UAE is close to ordering new Rafale strike fighters to equip it's air force, and it has been reported that one of the requirements is that Dassault should buy back or find a buyer for its Mirage 2000-9 fleet.
In July 2005, the Government of Brazil agreed to purchase 12 ex-French Air Force Mirage 2000 aircraft (ten "C" and two "B" versions) to replace the aging Mirage IIIBR. Deliveries began in September 2006 and concluded in 27 August 2008 with the delivery of the last 2 aircraft. They operate with 1º Grupo de Defesa Aérea (1º GDA – 1st Air Defence Group), primarily in the air defence role and it is equipped with Matra Super 530D and Matra Magic 2. Maintenance contract to end on 26 December 2013.
Qatar bought 12 Dassault Mirage 2000-5DAs (nine single seaters and three two seaters). Four Qatari Mirage 2000 fighter jets joined NATO operation over the Libyan zone of operations in 2011. These fighters fly from Crete, operating with French Mirage 2000s.