War in Ukraine

France Will Transfer Mirage 2000 Fighter Jets to Ukraine. But How Will They Help?

Mirage 2000

While the world’s attention has been focused on F-16 fighter jets, France has given Ukraine something different. By the end of 2024, France will transfer its Mirage 2000-5 fighter jets to Ukraine and will also conduct pilot training.

French President Emmanuel Macron announced that his country is ready to transfer Mirage 2000 fighter jets to Ukraine. Discussions about this have been ongoing for the past year, but the world’s attention was primarily focused on the transfer of F-16s. Yesterday, Macron put an end to these discussions, demonstrating his unwavering commitment to supporting Ukraine. The jets are expected to arrive in Ukraine by the end of 2024. As Ukraine waits, pilot training and infrastructure preparation will take place. But how exactly will the Mirage 2000 help Ukraine?

Mirage 2000-5

The Mirage 2000 is a 4th-generation fighter jet that began its history in 1978. Since then, the aircraft has undergone numerous modernizations. Ukraine will receive a modernized version of this jet, the Mirage 2000-5. One of the improvements is its capability to strike ground targets with the latest weaponry.

Preliminary data suggests that Ukraine may receive 27 Mirage 2000-5 jets from France and an additional 7 Mirage 2000B—a two-seat version.

This information is unconfirmed, but conclusions can be drawn from statements by French officials who promised that all equipment set for decommissioning would be transferred to Ukraine. As France transitions to more modern Rafale fighters, the Mirages could be transferred to Ukraine in the quantity stated by officials. It is possible that some of the transferred jets may be used as donors for spare parts.

How can Ukraine utilize the Mirage 2000-5?

Experts indicate that the Mirage 2000 has one drawback: it is not suitable for modern aerial combat. Its enemy detection systems work at a relatively short distance of about 50-80 km, making engaging in combat against Russian 5th-generation aircraft with French fighters impractical.

The strength of the Mirage-2000 lies in its function as a bomber.

  • The aircraft can launch Storm Shadow/SCALP missiles. Currently, this function is performed by the Su-24 in Ukraine, but only a few such aircraft are in service, and their durability is unknown. Even one squadron of Mirage 2000s (12 aircraft) would be sufficient to perform combat missions.

  • Additionally, the Mirage 2000 can drop guided AASM/HAMMER bombs, which France is also transferring to Ukraine at a rate of up to 50 units per month. It's still unknown if Ukraine will risk using these aircraft to strike enemy positions near the front lines (these bombs work at distances up to 70 km), but the capability to do that exists. Currently, this type of weaponry is used by Soviet-era MiG-29s.

  • Another suitable task for the Mirage 2000 is air defense. While the aircraft cannot engage a hypothetical Su-35, it can intercept enemy cruise missiles or Shahed drones.

What else?

F-16 and Mirage 2000 jets are very different, so their preparation for operation in Ukraine is also different.

Ukraine needs to create separate infrastructure for Mirage 2000 jets, gather a stockpile of spare parts for repairs, and find engines and other equipment. This also means preparing maintenance teams and training them to work with these aircraft.

Another challenge is pilot training. Training for F-16s and Mirage 2000s differs, and pilots are not interchangeable. Since the jets are planned to be transferred by the end of 2024, it can be concluded that pilot training for the French fighters will take about six months. France is determined to put maximum effort into meeting these deadlines.

The Mirage 2000 jets will complement the F-16s being transferred by Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, and Belgium. For example, F-16s are not equipped to carry Storm Shadow/SCALP missiles but are better suited for air combat. Thus, the synergy of different types of aircraft will be a significant advantage for Ukraine. Having various aircraft will allow the use of a broader range of weaponry and reduce dependency on any single country.

Currently, Ukraine’s partners have agreed to transfer about 88 F-16 jets. The exact number of Mirage 2000 jets that France will provide is still unknown, but it's likely to be dozens. Thus, Ukraine could receive more than 100 aircraft from its partners in the coming years.


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