The Indian Air Force (IAF) received two Mirage 2000 trainer version aircraft from France as a major boost to the fighter jet fleet of IAF amid border tensions with China and Pakistan. The two second-hand Mirage 2000 fighter aircraft would now be upgraded to the latest standard as part of the ongoing Mirage upgrade deal at the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. The two Mirage 2000 fighter aircraft have been acquired by the IAF to take up the number of aircraft in the Mirage fighter jet fleet to 50.
On August 31, the Indian Air Force signed another contract with the French Air Force to acquire 16 phased-out French Mirage aircraft in different batches to ensure enough spare parts for the Mirage jet fleet. India’s fleet of 50 Mirage aircraft form three squadrons based at the Gwalior Air Force station.
Mirage upgrade deal between India and France – Key Details
In July 2011, India signed a $2.1 billion worth deal with France to upgrade its fleet of Mirage 2000 fighter jets to Mirage 2000-5 Mk at about $43 million per Mirage aircraft. The Mirage upgrade deal aims at enhancing the capabilities of 51 Mirage aircraft with new radar systems, new weapon suite, electronic warfare system, and missiles. A total of 51 Mirage aircraft will be upgraded under the Mirage upgrade deal.
India had acquired the Mirage aircraft fleet from the French Air Force in the 1980s. Made by Dassault Aviation, these aircraft proved their mettle from the Kargil War to the 2019 Balakot airstrikes where they bombed a Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorist camp in Pakistan. These aircraft have destroyed camps of the Pakistan Army and bunkers on the Tiger Hilltop during the Kargil War by hitting their targets with pinpoint precision using laser-guided Spice-2000 bombs.
The first two upgraded Mirage 2000 fighter aircraft under the Mirage upgrade deal were handed over to India in March 2015. They were upgraded with advanced navigational, radar, and missile systems. The first 4 to 6 Mirage aircraft will be upgraded in France.
In 2011, another $900 million worth deal was signed with the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for upgrading the remaining 47 Mirage aircraft in India under the transfer of technology as part of the Mirage upgrade deal. The upgradation by HAL started in 2015.