The Indian Air Force on 25 March accepted the first two newly modified Mirage 2000 I/TI at Istres airbase in France. The two fighter aircraft underwent extensive upgrades in the hands of Dassault and Thales. The cost of the modification program is an estimated 2.4 billion USD.
India in 2011 signed a contract for the upgrade of 51 Mirage 2000 aircraft. The maiden flight of the first upgraded Mirage 2000 was completed successfully by Dassault Aviation on 5 October 2013, following a two year development phase dedicated to the equipment kit provided by Thales, including a new Thales RDY radar, glass cockpit with helmet-mounted display system, an electronic warfare suite including data link, and mission computer. The Mirages should also be able to use newly bought Litening targeting pods.
The rest of the Indian Air Force Mirage 2000 fleet will be upgraded in Bangalore, India, under the responsibility of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) with the complete support and involvement of Dassault Aviation and Thales teams. Since two aircraft crashed since the upgrade contract was signed, only 49 Mirages will receive the modifications in the end. India has been flying the Mirage 2000 since the 1980s.
Dassault says ‘the acceptance of the first two upgraded Mirage 2000 by the Indian Air Force is a new milestone in the long term cooperation between French and Indian industry based on cutting edge technologies and the sharing of know-how and expertise.’
For the French aircraft manufacturer there’s a lot at stake in India, with an order for 126 newly built Rafale 4.5th generation fighter aircraft on the cards. The deal has been subject of tough negotiations for years however, with India recently also eyeing the Sukhoi Su-30 instead. According to Eric Trappier, chairman & CEO of Dassault Aviation, ‘the Rafale will fulfill all of the operational requirements of the Indian Air Force and the industrial requirements of India’s economic policy as the Mirage 2000 continues to do.’
© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image: Skywards for this modified Indian Air Force Mirage 2000. (Image © Dassault Aviation)