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Politics, not aviation involved: What can Mirage 2000 aircraft do and why they are not suitable for Ukraine

Politics, not aviation involved: What can Mirage 2000 aircraft do and why they are not suitable for Ukraine French Mirage 2000s are not suitable for Ukraine due to a number of reasons (Photo:

Western media are once again discussing the possibility of transferring French Mirage 2000 fighter jets to Ukraine, despite the fact that the Ukrainian side had previously denied any interest in these outdated aircraft. More details about Mirage 2000 and why they may not be suitable for Ukraine's arsenal can be found in RBC-Ukraine material.

The material was prepared using publications from Intelligence Online, BFM TV, Le Figaro, the French specialized portal Opex360, data from the French Ministry of Defense website, statements from official spokespersons, and comments of Former Test Engineer at the Antonov Design Bureau Kostiantyn Kryvolap to RBC-Ukraine.

The title of the news article on the Intelligence Online portal reads, "Ukraine inches closer to obtaining French Mirage." The portal positions itself as a source of "daily exclusive information essential to understanding the intelligence world."

According to their information, a delegation from the Ukrainian Air Force has allegedly arrived in France to negotiate the supply of an unspecified number of aircraft. The training of pilots may have started earlier, as agreed upon by Presidents Emmanuel Macron and Volodymyr Zelenskyy. As reported by Intelligence Online, this training was expected to last several months at bases in Nancy-Och, Mont-de-Marsan, Velizy, and Romorantin-Lanthenay.

Politics, not aviation involved: What can Mirage 2000 aircraft do and why they are not suitable for Ukraine

Photo: France revisits Mirage 2000 for Ukraine (

The information has not been confirmed by official spokespeople. Furthermore, the Ukrainian side has denied interest in Mirage jets, and this is not the first time.

Efforts to 'sell' Mirage 2000 to Ukraine date back to spring

The aviation coalition was officially formed in the summer. Prior to that, discussions revolved around which fighter aircraft would become the backbone of the renewed Ukrainian Air Force.

"The Mirage 2000 story emerged in early 2023 when discussions were ongoing about the F-16. Other options, from the Gripen and Tornado to Mirage and Rafale, were also considered. When Zelenskyy went to Paris, Macron offered him training on Mirage 2000," said aviation expert and former engineer at Antonov Design Bureau, Konstiantyn Kryvolap.

In March 2023, Defense Minister Sébastien Lecornu was asked if France was willing to share 12 aircraft that had been retired and put into storage a year earlier. He refrained from giving a direct answer but emphasized that there were no taboos regarding assistance to Ukraine.

A few weeks later, Le Figaro reported on training at the Mon-de-Marsan and Nancy airbases. At that time, according to the material, around 30 Ukrainian pilots were undergoing accelerated training on Mirage jets.

Speaker of the Ukrainian Air Force, Yurii Ihnat, said that this did not correspond to reality. According to him, the pilots underwent courses unrelated to flight personnel training.

"We are training Ukrainian crews in France in terms of handling air defense systems and surviving in case their aircraft is shot down," confirmed French Defense Ministry representative Yan Gravet.

At that time, Ukrainian Minister of Defense Oleksii Reznikov explained that Mirage 2000 did not meet the priority characteristics. In particular, they would not be suitable for gaining air superiority over Russian Su-35s.

The fresh data from Intelligence Online were also refuted by Yurii Ihnat.

"Any assistance is important to us, but not in the form of Mirage 2000. We've talked about this many times... What do we need? To gain air superiority, repel Russian aviation from our borders and from occupied territory, strike at ground and surface targets, ensure airspace protection, and destroy cruise missiles and drones," he listed his priorities.

Thus, Ukraine cannot afford everything at once from the allies' aviation fleet and needs to focus on one or at most two types of multi-role fighters.

"Mirage 2000 is an outdated model. France has much better aircraft, and so does Europe," Ihnat summed up.

What is known about Mirage 2000

It is a fourth-generation multi-role fighter developed by the French company Dassault Aviation in the 1970s. It is in service with the French Air Force and several countries in Asia, Europe, and Latin America. Production ended in 2007, and since then, the French military has been transitioning to the more modern Dassault Rafale. In total, around 600 Mirage 2000 aircraft were produced, with 99 units remaining in France in the 5F, B, and D modifications.

Politics, not aviation involved: What can Mirage 2000 aircraft do and why they are not suitable for Ukraine

Photo: Mirage 2000 aircraft belong to the fourth generation (

Main characteristics

  • Length: 14.36 meters
  • Wingspan: 9.13 meters
  • Height: 5.14 meters
  • Weight: 7500 kg
  • Maximum takeoff weight: 17000 kg
  • Maximum speed: 2340 km/h
  • Range: 1852 km
  • Service ceiling: 16460 meters


The Mirage 2000 aircraft is equipped with two 30mm DEFA 554 aviation cannons and has 9 suspension points. Its maximum combat load is 6200 kg. It can carry air-to-ground guided missiles such as ASMP, AS.30L, AM.39, Armat, APACHE, or SCALP (for Mirage 2000D). It can also carry air-to-air missiles like Super 530 and/or R550 Magic, unguided MBDA missiles, as well as various guided and free-fall bombs.

According to Intelligence Online, France currently has 50 Mirage 2000D units, from which it may be willing to part.

Mirage 2000D for Ukraine: Pros and cons

Western media point out that the Mirage 2000D is optimized for low-altitude flight, ground attacks, and support for ground forces. They can carry ASTAC electronic reconnaissance pods, laser targeting pods, and are equipped with the Link 16 data transmission system, allowing the combat aircraft to receive real-time information from various NATO reconnaissance resources.

In theory, this could be beneficial for Ukraine, but expert Kostiantyn Kryvolap has doubts, as not everything from the mentioned features should be considered advantages, especially not as a decisive factor.

"They write that the Mirage has a good terrain scanning system, it is adapted for low-altitude flights. Well, everyone already flies that way, even our pilots. When the Russians came from the north, our Su-24s bombed columns at such a low altitude, they barely missed the trees," he commented to RBC-Ukraine.

Politics, not aviation involved: What can Mirage 2000 aircraft do and why they are not suitable for Ukraine

Photo: Mirage 2000D stands no chance of becoming a "game-changer" in the Russian-Ukrainian war (

Of course, the Mirage 2000D can work with Link 16 or the Ukrainian Delta situational awareness system, but its radars leave much to be desired.

"Our detection speed, for instance, against Russian Su-35s is higher than that of the French fighter. When the radar detects at only 100 km, you don't see the enemy aircraft. Su-35 can detect at 200-250 km, and while you're essentially blind, it can launch a missile. Even in our MiG-29s, the radar situation is better than in the Mirages," the expert added.

Intelligence Online points out another feature that may interest the Ukrainian Air Force. Mirage 2000D is adapted for the use of Storm Shadow (SCALP) missiles, so they could increase the number of platforms for their launch.

Previously, Ukraine, judging by certain episodes, quite successfully adapted its Su-24 or Su-27 aircraft for Storm Shadow. Recently, these missiles struck Russian Black Sea Fleet ships: the large landing ship Minsk and the submarine Rostov-on-Don in Sevastopol. Before that, several Storm Shadow missiles hit the bridges connecting mainland Ukraine with occupied Crimea.

According to Kryvolap, the ability to launch Storm Shadow (SCALP) is the Mirage 2000D's only strong point. However, it's insufficient to seriously consider acquiring such aircraft.

"Only if we lack Su bombers. I don't know how many of them are in service now, but according to various data, there are enough for launching British and French missiles. In any case, we don't need 25 aircraft to launch Storm Shadow. Not many of these missiles were made, and accordingly, not many were given to us," he explained to RBC-Ukraine.

Politics, not aviation involved: What can Mirage 2000 aircraft do and why they are not suitable for UkrainePhoto: Ukrainian aircraft are also equipped with Storm Shadow missiles (Photo: Getty Images)

If Ukraine needs more aircraft, it would be more practical to acquire 5-10 additional fighters. However, there are several issues associated with Mirage 2000, which ceased production 16 years ago. Firstly, spare parts for them were not mass-produced. Secondly, servicing one squadron would require a specialized unit.

"Thus, it all appears rather impractical. It's all outside the system of Ukraine's Air Force. On one hand, it's a combat aircraft, but just like Zhiguli is also a car. It became clear this spring that for Ukraine, F-16 should be the top priority, with Gripen possibly in second place. Everything else is either too expensive or so outdated that we simply don't need it," added the expert.

The fact that the French switched to Rafale after closing the Mirage 2000 production line indicates that there was no modernization effort for the Mirage aircraft. Unlike the American F-16s, which, in versions from Block 50/52 to Block 70/72, are considered the most modern combat aircraft.

The Mirage 2000 situation is more about politics than aviation

The situation surrounding the Mirage 2000 is indeed peculiar. For instance, in the summer, the specialized portal Opex360 wrote that in France, they had long been talking about the transfer of these aircraft as if it had already happened.

Xavier Tytelman, the editor of Air and Cosmos, who tracks French military aid, stated that he had heard rumors that Ukraine supposedly received Mirage 2000 in July.

Politics, not aviation involved: What can Mirage 2000 aircraft do and why they are not suitable for UkrainePhoto: Images of the transferred SCALP missile have generated conspiracy theories about Mirage 2000 ( Zelenskiy_official).

Analysts emphasized that the rumors were not without foundation, especially considering that reports about Ukrainian training had already surfaced in March. As it is known, German MiG-29 pilots were transferred to Mirage aircraft in just three months.

The second argument is more in the realm of conspiracy theories. The authors of Opex360 pointed out a video in which President Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed a SCALP missile attached to the aircraft. Upon closer inspection, besides the Eiffel Tower with the trident, the missile depicts an aircraft, one half of which is a Su-24, and the other half is a Mirage 2000.

Kostiantyn Kryvolap believes that the Mirage story is about politics, not aviation. It may be a play for the Ukrainian audience.

"Perhaps they want to show that the French are ready, the Germans and the Dutch are ready to provide F-16s, the Swedes are ready to provide Gripens, and Mr. Biden (the U.S. President - Ed.) is delaying everything. There was recently news that a training center in Romania is awaiting either certificates or permission to train Ukrainian pilots. That's the only reason I see for playing with the Mirage. From a technical and aviation point of view, Mirage aircraft in Ukraine are nonsense," the expert added.