HAL teams with Dassault in deal to upgrade Indian Mirage 2000s

 - February 11, 2008, 6:42 AM

Following the successful Mirage 2000 update programs in Greece and the United Arab Emirates, Dassault and Thales have joined forces with Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) to provide a similar upgrade for the Indian air force’s Mirage fleet. India received 95 first-generation Mirage 2000 fighters in varying configurations and has found the type a very useful asset over the years. In addition to air-to-air roles, the Mirage has served as a precision bomber, carrying ATLIS II designation pods to deliver laser-guided bombs. In this role it saw action in the Kargil conflict in 1999.

In early July 2007, Dassault, Thales and HAL signed a partnership deal, submitting an offer to the Indian air force covering a Mirage 2000 upgrade immediately afterward. The proposed upgrade is based on the RDY-2 radar and is an adaptation of the existing 2000-5 Mk 2 and 2000-9 configurations, albeit with provisions to integrate existing and planned Indian equipment. The team must respond to an official request for information by the end of this month, following which the Indian government will decide whether to proceed. According to vice president, electronic combat solutions at Thales Aerospace, Gérard Christmann, that decision is expected toward the end of this year or early in 2009.

UAE Program
On September 28 last year the United Arab Emirates air force took delivery of the last of 62 Dassault Mirage 2000-9s. Abu Dhabi first ordered the Mirage 2000 in May 1983, receiving its first aircraft in November 1989 to equip two squadrons at Al Dhafra.

The initial purchase covered 22 single-seat Mirage 2000EADs, eight reconnaissance-capable 2000RADs and six 2000DAD two-seaters, collectively known as “SAD8” aircraft.

After nearly a decade of successful service, the UAE military decided to increase and enhance the Mirage fleet. Following a protracted evaluation, the government opted to acquire a second batch of Mirages in the latest Dash 9 configuration (“SAD91/92”).

Regarded as the most capable Mirage 2000 variant in service, the Dash 9 is a collaboration among Dassault (airframe), Snecma (engine) and Thales (avionics/systems). Thales supplied a new mission system, built around a new mission computer and the RDY-2 multimode radar. The cockpit was overhauled radically with new Thales color displays, while the company also supplied a new navigation unit, electrical generation and distribution system, radio altimeter, UHF radio and IFF system. It installed a very capable integrated modular electronic warfare suite, comprising Thales radar warning receiver and high-band jammer, integrated with Elettronica low-band jammer. The IMEWS not only provides self-defense, but also acts as an accurate electronic intelligence and targeting system.

For low-level night flying and precision weapons delivery, the 2000-9 carries the Thales Optronics Nahar forward-looking infrared pod under one of the intakes, partnered on the other side by a Thales Shehab laser designation pod. The latter is a derivative of the Damocles system now fielded on the French air force Mirages. A separate armament deal covers the supply of MBDA MICA air-to-air missiles and the Black Shaheen precision-guided conventional cruise missile, a variant of the Scalp/Storm Shadow in service in France and the UK. Outside the main Dash 9 contract, the UAE has requested a proposal from Dassault to integrate a centerline reconnaissance pod.

Greek Update
Meanwhile, the Dassault-led team is continuing to provide upgrade kits for Mirage 2000s for the Greek air force, with work being undertaken by Hellenic Aerospace Industry.

On November 26 last year, Dassault delivered the last of 15 new-build Mirage 2000-5 Mk 2s to the air force in a ceremony held at Tanagra. The aircraft was the last of 601 Mirage 2000s to be built before the production line closed. Like the UAE, Greece also opted to upgrade some of its existing first-generation aircraft, adding 10 upgrade kits for a total of 25 Mirage 2000-5s.

Greece initially bought 36 Mirage 2000EG single-seaters and four 2000BG two-seaters. They were ordered in July 1985 and deliveries began in March 1988. Interest in a follow-on order for second-generation 2000-5 Mk 2s was confirmed in April 1999 and formalized on Aug. 21, 2000. The first of the 25 second-generation jets was delivered in 2004.

Taiwanese Mirages Are Capable, but Costly

Taiwan is the only country in East Asia flying French warplanes. Unlike India and the United Arab Emirates, Taiwan is unlikely to get an upgrade that would confer multimission capability on the Mirage 2000s of the Republic of China Air Force (ROCAF). When the aircraft were delivered in the mid-1990s, they were equipped only for air-to-air combat, in deference to mainland China. Even so, the sale of the 60 Mirage 2000-5s to Taiwan stirred bitter protests from Beijing. France has not sold any defense equipment to Taiwan since then.

Nevertheless, Dassault, Thales and Snecma still support the aircraft, which are based at Hsinchu on Taiwan’s west coast. They were supplied to the same standard as France’s own upgraded interceptors, with the RDY radar, internal ECM and M53 P20 engines. Every year, a small team from the French air force visits Hsinchu to advise on new tactics and procedures. But Taiwan defense sources told AIN that spares for the Mirages were very expensive–a charge that has also been made by other countries that fly Dassault fighters.