Tag Archives: Mirage 2000

France forces Mirage 2000Ds to fight on and go low

Despite having about 100 Dassault Rafale B/Cs in the Air Force inventory, France sees itself forced to keep its older Mirage 2000D operational to keep the ground attack capabilities of the Armée de l’Air at proper levels. It even wants the Deltas to drop below altitudes they were not meant to do when designed – learning from recent missions in the skies of Southwest Asia.

Dassault Aviation received the order – by French defence procurement agency DGA – to renovate 55 Mirage 2000Ds. The modification include weapon system updates, the gun pod and Mica missiles of the aircraft version of the Mirage 2000 that is especially adapted for ground attack.

The Mirage 2000D entered service in 1993 and is the “less terrifying” sister of the Mirage 2000N designed for nuclear strike. In fact, the aircraft are basically the same with the Delta used for long-range strikes with conventional Apache, Scalp and Mica missiles. The first flight of the 2000D was in 1991, roughly 5 years after the 2000N. Lacking an on-board gun, has proven to be a miss during recent combat operations in Afghanistan, Libya (Operations Harmattan / Unified Protector) and Central Africa / Mali (Serval, now Barkhane) and combating the so-called Islamic State forces in Iraq and Syria (ISIS / Daesh(.

Mirage 2000D operations

During the operations of the last few years the Mirage 2000Ds often flew with just a pair of 500 lbs GBU-12 laser-guided or GBU-49 gps-/laser-guided bombs and two external fuel tanks. Adding the gun pod means the French Air Force wants to add a more effective close-air support to the Mirage 2000D – something that the aircraft was not designed to do but may work well in low-threat environments. The new modifications are believed to have been mostly “inspired” by the recent deployments against ISIS / Daesh.

The newest French multi-role fighters Dassault Rafale B (two-seat) and C (single-seat) initially were introduced with air-to-air capabilities (F1) only. The latest Dassault Rafale B/C have been delivered in F3 standard (fully multi-role, including nuclear strike) but reportedly not all Rafale F1s have been fully upgraded yet to F3.

Mirage 2000D bases

French Air Force Mirage 2000Ds fly from BA133 Nancy/Ochey (France), BA188 Djibouti/Ambouli (East Africa) plus a pair normally deployed to Niamey/Diori Hamani in Niger in support of Operation Barkhane.

© 2016 Airheadsfly.com senior contributor Marcel Burger
Featured image (top): A Mirage 2000 taking off (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Argentina desperately seeking Mirage

Cash-low Argentina is so desperately seeking new fighter jets, that it is looking to put budget priced French fighter jets from the 1970s back in the air.

The defence minister of the Latin-American nation recently paid a visit to France, trying to have Paris agree to an affordable price tag for 12 Dassault-made fighter jets retired by the French Air Force (Armée de l’Air). Buenos Aires is looking for six Mirage F1s plus six Mirage 2000s, or a dozen of either one of the types. A 2013 deal with Spain seems to have hit the sand barrier somewhere.

FAM IA 58 Pucará

To Argentina’s main conservative daily newspaper, La Nacion, Mr. Julio Martinez also said he is hoping that France would like to provide new engines so that the Argentine Air Force (Fuerza Aérea Argentina) is able to bring 20 IA 58 Pucará ground attack and counter-insurgency aircraft back into the sky. Fábrica Militar de Aviones (FAM) produced 110 of these two-engine propeller aircraft between 1976 and 1986, with the type still operational in both Argentine and Uruguay.

An Argentinian made  Fábrica Militar de Aviones (FMA) IA 58 Pucará, here in service with the Uruguayan Air Force (Image © Ralph Blok)
An Argentinian made Fábrica Militar de Aviones (FMA) IA 58 Pucará, here in service with the Uruguayan Air Force (Image © Ralph Blok)

F-16

Despite its known good operational status and relatively low cost for flight hours and maintenance, Buenos Aires is said not to seek purchase of the US-made Lockheed Martin F-16 that is flown – among others – by neighbouring Chile. An official reason for not buying the F-16 other that “not in the interest of the nation” has not been given. For some time even a wild story circulated that frustrated policy makers in the Argentinian capital were looking for a Russian bomber solution.

A former IAF Skyhawk, now working for a civil contractor. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
A-4s similar to this former Israeli example were grounded in Argentina in January 2016 (Image © Elmer van Hest)

A-4 Fightinghawk

The Fuerza Aérea Argentina has currently no fighter jets on strenght, after the 22 remaining McDonnell Douglas A-4AR Fightinghawks and three (O)A-4ARs were grounded at Villa Reynolds Airbase in January 2016 because of the lack of spare parts and other airworthiness issues. Earlier the service decommissioned its Dassault Mirage III and IAI Fingers / AMD M5 Dagger units at Tandil Airbase. That leaves the nation with only 32 IA 58 Pucarás on frontline duty, of which many are down for maintenance.

An AT-63 Pampa II (Image © Fábrica Argentina de Aviones)
An AT-63 Pampa II (Image © Fábrica Argentina de Aviones)

Pampa

The about two dozen FMA IA 63 Pampas (35 ordered) are not suited for combat, and the 14 remaining Embraer EMB-312 Tucanos can only be used for limited ground support and counter-insurgency operations.

© 2016 Airheadsfly.com senior contributor Marcel Burger
Featured image (top): Retired French Air Force Mirage F1s might be put to new use in Argentine skies (Image © Marcel Burger)

Arab coalition jets face new threat in Yemen

The combat aircraft and attack helicopters of the Arab coalition fighting Houthi forces in Yemen are facing a new threat. Shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles.

Although uncertain how many of these MANPADS the Houthi soldiers have, the recent loss of a United Arab Emirates Air Force Mirage 2000-9 shows that close-air support is getting more tricky.

Downed the UAE jet

What exactly downed the French-made UAE jet with the loss of both crew is now a big question. The official statement of the Ministry of Defence in Abu Dhabi is that the aircraft had a technical malfunction and crashed into a mountain. Other sources claim that it was shot down. The latter is now supported by a recent news story in the normally well-informed British newspaper The Independent.

“SA-7 took down the jet”

According to claims made public by The Independent a Soviet-made 9K32 Strela-2 – popular known in NATO countries as SA-7 Grail – heat-seeking missile took down the jet, while the plane was flying low-level fly-by, possibly using its on-board gun against enemy positions.

Anti-aircraft guns

Until recently Houthi rebels and their allies (sometimes described as Al-Quada on the Arab Peninsula or AQAP) are known to have deployed anti-aircraft guns against Arab coalition combat aircraft, but if true the deployment of the MANPADS is a new chapter in the air-to-ground operations in the war struck Southwest Asian country. So far at least four fast jets and at least one Saudi Arabian AH-64 Apache helicopter have been lost on the Arab coalition side in the recent Yemen war.

© 2016 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image: A Mirage 2000 fighter from the United Arab Emirates in 2008 (Image © Staff Sgt. Aaron Allmon / USAF)

United Arab Emirates fighter jet lost in Yemen

A UAE Air Force Mirage 2000D-9 crashed in Yemen, during combat operations against Houthi forces. The loss of the aircraft has been confirmed by UAE officials on Monday 14 March 2016.

Why the plane went down is not known. UAE officials later confirmed both crew was killed.

Fifth loss

It is the fifth known loss of a combat aircraft in the Yemeni war operations. A Bahraini Air Force F-16 crashed due to a technical error in December.A Saudi Armed Forces AH-64 was shot down on 21 August. In May 2015 a Moroccan F-16 crashed, killing the pilot. A Saudi fighter pilot was rescued by US forces after a technical failure downed his F-15S Eagle in March 2015.

© 2016 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image: A Mirage 2000 fighter from the United Arab Emirates in 2008 (Image © Staff Sgt. Aaron Allmon / USAF)

AHF↑Inside: Orange Mirage Masters

It’s August in southern France. The weather has been sunny and hot for weeks, but things are changing today as dark clouds appear over Orange airbase. An omen for the Dassault Mirage 2000s of Escadron de Chasse (EC) 02.005 “Île de France”, otherwise known as the Orange Masters? This unit, which first stood up in 1941, plays an important role in the history of the Armée de l´Air (French Air Force), being the first unit to land in unoccupied France after World War II. Tragic headlines were also made last March.

After flying many different types of aircraft, many of which were developed by French airplane manufacturer Dassault, the unit has been flying the Mirage 2000 since 1989. Currently the unit has two main tasks; training of pilots for all Mirage 2000 types flying in the Armée de l’Air, and air defence for southeastern France. For this, the unit is equiped with the Mirage 2000C (single seat) and B (twin seat) models. As the Rafale takes over the roles of various Mirage types, it begs the question on how much longer they will grace Orange’s skies.
Getting ready for a ride. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Getting ready for a ride. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
 Training

In the past the unit trained many Mirage 2000 pilots, also for foreign operatos such as Brasil. Nowadays, as newer aircraft types are getting operational, the only foreigners at Orange are exchange pilots. Our guide – nickname Kanoe – is training hard to become a fully qualified Armée de l’Air Mirage 2000C pilot. He’s halfway now. He started his pilot training at Cognac airbase on the TB30 Epsilon basic trainer, then he moved to Tours and Cazaux airbase to fly the Alpha Jet, another type in the autumn of its career.

Early next year, ‘Kanoe’ hopes to become fully qualified on the C model. “I personally prefer a single seat aircraft over a two seat aircraft, as I like to be fully in control of every decision to be made.” He then proudly tells about the progression he’s making, as just this morning he got his first Mirage 2000D kill during a 2 vs 2 air to air combat mission against Mirage 2000D’s from Nancy airbase. Unfortunately, after the first D left the scene, the two C’s were killed by the remaining D. But anyway, after the debrief of the mission he also gained experience from this. An everage one hour mission costs about 15.000 euro and takes five hours in total including briefing, flight preparations and debriefing.

This Bravo gets some maintenance inside the hangar. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
This Mirage 2000B gets some maintenance done inside the hangar. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Air defence

More recently, the Orange-based Mirages made international headlines on 24 March this.  That day, a single Mirage was scrambled to intercept an unresponsive Airbus A320 flying from Barcelona to Düsseldorf. That flight was of course Germanwings flight 4U 9525, which tragically crashed by the hands of its own co-pilot, only half a minute before the Mirage  was able to reach it.

The intercept was part of EC 02.005’s air defense task over southeastern France. There are two Mirage 2000C on 24/7 Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) . Pilots on duty remain on a separate part of the base, close to the special aircraft shelter, next to the main runway. In 2014 the unit also performed QRA for NATO’s Baltic Air Policing misson, operating from Malbork airbase in Poland

On to the runway for another training sortie! (Image © Dennis Spronk)
On to the runway for another training sortie! (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Last checks are done before the aircraft will taxy for another mission. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Last checks are done before the aircraft will taxy for another mission. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Future
It’s planned the Mirage 2000C with its Magic-2 air-to-air missile will continue to fulfill the QRA until 2018. At that time, this mission will most probably be taken over by the Mirage 2000-5. This aircraft, which is a modified version, flies with EC 01.002 Cicognes from Luxeuil airbase. It is assumed they will have a detachment at Orange from that time.

In the meantime, it started raining cats and dogs at the airbase, as a pair of resident Mirages return from an afternoon mission. ‘Kanoe’ said he never saw a Mirages taxying through such large water pools before.  Lets hope the future has better things in store for the historical unit that is EC02.005. As the unit seems to lose its air defence role from 2018, the C model Mirage mainly will be used to keep more experienced pilots current on flying combat aircraft. Will that be enough? Time will tell.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Dennis Spronk
Featured image (top): In front of its shelter this Mirage is waitint to leave for another sortie.  (Image © Dennis Spronk)

Yes, this is also "sunny" Orange. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Yes, this is also “sunny” Orange. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Getting arty-farty with this nice angle. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Getting arty-farty with this nice angle. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
These two Mirages wait patiently for their maintenance. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
These two Mirages wait patiently for their maintenance. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Last checks are done before the aircraft will taxy for another mission. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Last checks are done before the aircraft will taxy for another mission. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Preflight checking inside the shelter. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Preflight checking inside the shelter. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
More Mirage maintenance being done. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
More Mirage maintenance being done. (Image © Dennis Spronk)