The Colombian Air Force is at the verge of buying up to 18 former French Air Force Dassault Mirage 2000-5Fs, according to sources in Paris and Bogotá.
The offer looks to be a response to the acute problems the Fuerza Aérea Colombiana (FAC) faces after its small fleet of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) Kfir fighter aircraft was grounded last week. The grounding was the result of a non-fatal crash of a Kfir on 31 December, apparently due to an engine malfunction. Over the last few years, no less than five Kfirs were lost.
Just around New Year, FAC pilots apparently already flew similar jets in France, to test their capabilities and to weigh possible integration into the FAC tactics and structure. According to sources the crews were very happy with the performance of the aircraft, even if the development of the Mirage 2000-5F took place in the 1980s and 1990s.
The Mirage 2000-5F was actually the Armée de l’Air’s (AdlA) intermediate solution for a capable combat jet until large scale introduction of the 5th generation multi-role fighter Rafale, of which only six of the first batch had all advanced options – including proper bombing capability – by 2007.
The AdlA upgraded 37 of their older and aging Mirage 2000Cs to the new 2000-5F standard. Operational since 2000 they received a laser designator pod and a new radar doppler to detect not only up to 24 targets, but also to track 8 of them while engaging the threat with up to 4 MBDA MICA air-to-air missiles at the same time. The jets got a digital cockpit very much like the Rafale, and additional buttons and controls on the flight control stick and throttle (HOTAS) to make air combat easier for the pilot. Moreover the 2000-5Fs crew’s can make full use of night vision-goggles.
However, the Five Foxtrots don’t have an up-to-date countermeasures system, which the Colombian Air Force apparently is keen off. So if the FAC buys the aircraft, it is likely to be equipped with the ICMS 2 countermeasures suite (or similar) initially proposed for the AdlA machines but never incorporated by the French. Other additions might be a datalink and helmet-mounted display (Topsight) proposed by Thales, but we at Airheadsfly.com could not verify if the FAC actually wants this.
If Bogotá indeed decides to buy the up to 18 surplus Mirage 2000-5Fs, the deal is expected to land at about 500 million US dollars, including logistics and training. A relatively okay price to pay for a Colombian Air Force that is in desperate need of a new fighter jet, since its two dozen Israeli-built IAI Kfirs (Mirage 5 copies, a 1970s jet) received in the 1990s have proven themselves to have become obsolete.
© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger