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Necessary reserve. How Mirage 2000-5 fighters could strengthen Ukrainian Armed Forces

Necessary reserve. How Mirage 2000-5 fighters could strengthen Ukrainian Armed Forces Photo: France may provide Ukraine with Mirage 2000-5 fighter jets (Getty Images)

By the end of the year, Ukraine's combat aviation fleet may be replenished with not two, but three types of Western-style aircraft. In addition to F-16 fighters and ACS 890 long-range reconnaissance aircraft, French Mirage 2000-5 jets are set to join the fleet, with an official announcement anticipated soon. Read more about these aircraft, why they were previously declined, and their capabilities in the context of the Russian-Ukrainian war in the material by RBC-Ukraine.


France gives Mirages: what is known

The Aviation Coalition of Ukraine's allies was finally formed in the summer of 2023. But since spring, it has been discussed which Western-style combat aircraft will become the main one in the Air Force.

Before the final decision was made, various platforms were considered, including the Gripen, Tornado, Mirage, and Rafale, but the US F-16 was chosen. Denmark, Belgium, and the Netherlands have declared their readiness to provide them.

Western media reported that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was offered to start training pilots on French Mirage 2000s. It was reported that 30 pilots were supposed to be trained at the Mont de Marsan and Nancy bases. But as it turned out, the courses were related to flight training. Ukraine's position was that it couldn't grab everything at once, and the Mirage jets were deemed hopelessly outdated.

Yesterday's statement by French President Emmanuel Macron was unexpected.

France is helping the Ukrainians resist, but we don't want an escalation. Tomorrow (June 7, 2024 - ed.) we will announce the sale of Mirage 2000-5, which will allow Ukraine to protect its airspace,” he said.

Необхідний резерв. На що здатні винищувачі Mirage 2000-5 та як можуть посилити ЗСУ

Photo: Emmanuel Macron is ready to supply French fighter jets to Ukraine (Getty Images)

According to him, this will happen at a meeting with Zelenskyy, who was invited to the 80th anniversary of the Normandy landings. Today, he has a series of contacts planned with key partners. An announcement regarding the aircraft is expected in the evening.

It should be noted that the official rhetoric has changed over the year. As stated by the Air Force spokesperson Illia Yevlash, the Mirage 2000 is capable of effectively striking air and ground targets, and the aircraft is quite modern.

Ukraine refused Mirage jets only verbally, but pilots began training, notes aviation expert Valerii Romanenko.

According to him, the group of pilots that started previous training in the UK was divided into two. One was sent for training on the F-16s, and the other was sent to France for training on Alpha Jets.

"It was clear that they would go to French planes. They don't switch from Alpha Jets to F-16s. In fact, about two months ago, a decision was made regarding training on Mirage jets," he added.

Characteristics and features of Mirage 2000-5

The Mirage 2000 is a multi-role fourth-generation fighter developed in the 1970s by Dassault Aviation. It is in service with France, Greece, Egypt, and several Asian and Latin American countries. Over 600 aircraft were produced, with production ending in 2007.

Key characteristics:

  • Length: 14.36 m
  • Wingspan: 9.13 m
  • Height: 5.14 m
  • Weight: 7500 kg
  • Maximum takeoff weight: 17000 kg
  • Maximum combat load: 6200 kg
  • Maximum speed: 2340 km/h
  • Combat radius: 1852 km
  • Service ceiling: 16460 m
  • Crew: 1 person

The Mirage 2000 is equipped with two 30-mm aviation cannons and can carry air-to-air, air-to-ground, anti-ship, and anti-radiation missiles, as well as guided and free-fall bombs. Missile armament varies in range depending on the version.

Mirage 2000-5 is a deep modernization. As reported by Defense Express, it essentially represents a light fighter-bomber, which, thanks to its ability to launch guided missiles at ground targets, has become a full-fledged representative of the 4+ generation.

This aircraft is equipped with a radar system with a target detection range of up to 130 km. The system can simultaneously track 8 targets and fire on four of them. Features include high-quality detection of air targets against the ground.

The Mirage 2000-5 is equipped with MICA missiles for air combat (up to 80 km), Exocet anti-ship missiles (up to 70 km), SCALP/Storm Shadow cruise missiles for striking ground targets (up to 290 km/560 km), AS37 Armat anti-radar missiles (up to 120 km) and a wide range of air bombs.

Nothing is known yet about the number of these aircraft that can be delivered to Ukraine. The French Air Force currently operates 26 Mirage 2000-5Fs as part of the 1/2 Cigognes fighter group. It is regularly involved in NATO-led patrol missions in the Baltic States.

Does Ukraine need these aircraft: arguments for and against

The debate on the Mirage 2000-5 continues at the expert level due to the uncertainties surrounding it. For instance, former Antonov Design Bureau test engineer Kostiantyn Kryvolap believes that the French aircraft are inferior to Ukrainian MiG-29s.

"Their radars are weaker, and their armament does not allow for air combat. Mirage 2000-5 is considered for air combat. But what can we talk about when you have a radar with a range of 100 km, and a missile can shoot at 80 km at best? If they are thrown at a Russian Su-35, it will simply shoot them down," the expert noted.

Valerii Romanenko clarifies that Ukraine previously refused Mirages in the hope of obtaining Swedish Gripen fighters, which are comparable to F-16 in terms of characteristics.

Overall, Mirage 2000-5 is somewhat better and somewhat worse than MiG-29. However, in the current situation, the Air Force needs a reserve of long-range SCALP missile carriers.

"We only have Su-24 M and Su-24 MR (SCALP carriers, - ed.). It is unlikely that there are many of them. Every mass missile attack is accompanied by strikes on our Su base in Starokostiantyniv. This is not a secret. I cannot speak for the command, but apparently, the decision was made that the reserve is needed."

Необхідний резерв. На що здатні винищувачі Mirage 2000-5 та як можуть посилити ЗСУ

Photo: Mirages are unlikely to be used for air battles with Russian aircraft (

It is also believed that if Germany does decide to provide long-range Taurus missiles, the Su-24 will have to be modified for them. In the meantime, the backup “mirages” will have to replace Ukrainian aircraft.

"Taurus is not much heavier than SCALP. Perhaps the Su aircraft will be able to carry the Taurus because they are suitable in weight. It's hard to tell, but I don't rule out this option,” Romanenko emphasized.

The capabilities of the Mirage 2000-5

The Mirage 2000-5's weapons determine the scenarios of their use. According to Defense Express, the AIM-120 AMRAAM air-to-air missiles, which can shoot down targets at 160 km, are not adapted for them, so the Mirage will not be effective in battles with Russian tactical aircraft.

Its MICA missile has a claimed range of 80 km. The insufficiently strong radar could theoretically be compensated for by communication with Swedish Saab 340 AEW (ACS 890) long-range reconnaissance aircraft when targeting is transmitted to the missile via the NATO Link 16 system. But the missile's range remains its weakest point, Romanenko explains.

"If Swedish AWACS try to work with them against Russian aviation, the AWACS will be shot down. I don't think they will be brought to such dangerous distances. The 80 km range is in ideal conditions. As a rule, for 100% effectiveness, you need to divide it by two, and Russians don't even come close to the front line, not even by 40-45 km," he emphasized.

For this reason, the Mirages will not fight with Russian aircraft like the MiG and Su. At the same time, the RDY radar, which can see up to 130 km, works well against targets on the ground.

"It's better than the radars on our MiG and Su. So it will be useful as an air defense fighter. And we can free up the F-16 from tasks of destroying cruise missiles in rear areas," the expert explained.

Secondly, as mentioned above, the Mirage 2000-5 will enhance the Air Force's capabilities in striking with long-range SCALP missiles. Thirdly, they serve as carriers of long-range AASM Hammer bombs for strikes on the front line.

"This weapon is similar to Russian guided bombs with unified planning and correction modules. Earlier, France promised to supply 50 such bombs, but now there are talks about 90 per month," Romanenko emphasized.

Another function is to attack enemy radar stations with AS37 Armat anti-radar missiles. They are equivalent to American HARM missiles in characteristics.

"For example, two aircraft can carry AS37 for cover, and four - Storm Shadow. As soon as the Russian air defense is activated, Mirage 2000-5 launches anti-radar missiles and it will be easier for long-range Storm Shadows to break through. The Russians will be forced to turn off the radars, or the radars will be destroyed," summarized the expert.

Sources: statements by French President Emmanuel Macron, Air Force spokesman Illia Yevlash, publications of the French media, Defense Express, and comments by former Antonov Design Bureau test engineer Kostiantyn Kryvolap and leading researcher at the National Aviation University of Ukraine Valerii Romanenko.