New Delhi: The Mirage 2000, a trusted workhorse of the Indian Air Force (IAF) used extensively during the Kargil face-off in 1999, emerged as the fighter jet of choice again as India decided to enter Pakistan territory to destroy terrorist camps.
Mirage 2000 is a product of the France-based Dassault Aviation, the manufacturer of the controversial Rafale fighter jets India has purchased.
When asked why Mirage-2000s were used, a source in the Ministry of Defence told ThePrint, “Mirage has the capability for pin-point accuracy. It has all kind of weapons, including smart and conventional ones.”
Mirage 2000 is one of several fighter jets in the IAF’s fleet, which also boasts of the Sukhoi Su-30MKI, MiG-29, Jaguars, and the indigenously-produced Tejas LCA.
Mirage-2000 is a multi-role, single-engine fighter jet available in “single-seat and two-seat” configurations.
It is a lighter aircraft than India’s other fighters and has a top speed of 2,336 kmph.
In comparison, the more advanced fighter in India’s fleet, the Sukhoi Su-30MKI, is heavier and slower at 2,120 kmph.
This was one of the major reasons why the IAF chose Mirage-2000s for Tuesday’s operation.
In terms of firepower capabilities, the Mirage-2000 can launch air-to-air and air-to-surface missile attacks. It can also carry laser-guided bombs and has a multi-target Doppler radar on board.
India and Mirages
India first placed the order for the Mirage-2000 in 1982, as a response to Pakistan acquiring the US-made F-16s. India acquired 36 Mirages at the time.
After they were used extensively during the Kargil War (though within Indian territory), India ordered 10 more Mirage-2000s in 2004.
In 2011, India placed another order to upgrade its Mirage 2000s to Mirage 5-Mk, re-establishing them as India’s most trusted fighter jets.