The Dassault Mirage 2000 & 4000
The delta-winged Dassault Mirage III / 5 series of fighters were one of Europe's first operational supersonic combat aircraft, and proved popular in French and export service. Their success led Dassault to produce a next-generation fighter, the Mirage 2000, with a similar configuration, though it was in fact an entirely new design. It would prove successful as well. This document provides a history and description of the Mirage 2000 series fighters, as well as of the one-off Mirage 4000 heavy fighter.
Dassault Marage 2000 origins
The Mirage 2000 evolved from a series of Dassault design efforts performed from 1965 to 1975. The first in this series was a collaborative project known as the "Anglo-French Variable Geometry (AFVG)" swing-wing aircraft, begun in 1965. The collaboration was a fiasco, with the French pulling out in 1967. The British stayed with the concept and formed another collaboration with the Germans and Italians, which eventually produced the Panavia Tornado multirole combat aircraft.
Dassault then worked on several new aircraft concepts evolved from their "Mirage G" variable-geometry experimental prototype, resulting in a sophisticated design with the designation "Avion de Combat Futur (ACF / Future Combat Aircraft)". The ACF prototype was almost complete when the French government cancelled it in December 1975. The ACF was simply too big and expensive. However, Dassault had been considering other fighter options in the meantime, partly because the export potential of the ACF was not very promising.
These alternatives were smaller, simpler, and cheaper than the ACF, and took the form of a number of "Mini-Mirage (Mimi)" concepts developed beginning in 1972 on a "back-burner" basis. These concepts congealed into an aircraft known at first as the "Super Mirage III", then the "Delta 1000", "Delta 2000", and finally "Super Mirage 2000". When the ACF was cancelled, Dassault was able to immediately offer the Mirage 2000 as an alternative, and the French Defense Council accepted it. It wasn't exactly an even trade, since the ACF was a strike aircraft first and an interceptor second, while the Mirage 2000 was exactly the reverse. However, the Mirage 2000 was much more affordable.
There was another reason for Dassault to push the Mirage 2000. In 1975, four European nations selected the General Dynamics F-16 as their new first-line fighter, rejecting an improved Mirage F1. Marcel Dassault was disgusted with the choice, feeling his company could build a better aircraft and find success with it on the export market.
The new and powerful SNECMA M53 low-bypass afterburning turbofan engine, which had been developed for the ACF, was available for the Mirage 2000, but radar development threatened to be a critical path. Despite such obstacles, Marcel Dassault felt that a prototype could be flying in a year and a half, with operational introduction in 1982. In fact, the program was delayed. Initial flight of the first prototype was on 10 March 1978, with Jean Coreau at the controls. The first production example flew on 20 November 1982, and operational service was finally attained in 1984. However, by the standards of modern defense programs that was not all that big a schedule slip.
Using the delta wing configuration seemed to many like a backward step. Dassault had used that configuration on the Mirage III and 5, but abandoned it for the Mirage F1. A delta wing tends to be a good choice in terms of high-speed flight characteristics, simplicity of aircraft construction, relatively low radar signature, and internal volume. It tends to be a poor choice in terms of maneuverability, low-altitude flight, and length of take-off and landing run.
Dassault engineers managed to bring the delta wing up to date by moving the aircraft's center of lift to the front of its center of gravity, giving the fighter a degree of instability that enhanced maneuverability. This also reduced the takeoff run: in the older Mirage deltas, lowering the elevons on takeoff to increase lift would push the aircraft's nose back down, but shifting the center of lift eliminated this problem.
A runway arresting hook or fairing for a brake parachute could be fitted under the tail, but this position was often fitted with a Dassault Eclair manually-operated chaff-flare dispenser. The landing roll was reduced by robust carbon brakes. The backward retracting steerable nose gear featured dual wheels, while the main gear featured single wheels and retracted inward into the wings.
The aircraft flew with a redundant "fly-by-wire automatic flight control system (FBW AFCS)", providing electronic "smarts" to compensate for the aircraft's inherent instability; two-piece elevons on each wing; and automatic, full length, two-segment leading-edge slats. This gave the Mirage 2000 a level of agility that the Mirage III and 5 lacked, and in fact the new machine would acquire a reputation for superb handling. An airbrake was fitted on top of each wing, with the arrangement very similar to that of the Mirage III. A noticeably taller tailfin allowed the pilot to retain control at higher angles of attack, assisted by small strakes mounted along each air intake.
Most of the aircraft was made of aircraft aluminum alloy, but some titanium and carbon fiber composite parts were used as well. Built-in armament consisted of twin DEFA 554 (now GIAT 30-550 F4) 30 millimeter revolver-type cannon with 125 rounds each. The cannon had selectable fire rates of 1,200 or 1,800 rounds per minute. The Mirage 2000 could carry up to 6.3 tonnes (13,900 pounds) of stores on nine pylons, with two pylons on each wing and five under the fuselage. The centerline pylon and one pylon under each wing were "wet", able to carry external fuel tanks. A fixed removeable refueling probe could be attached in front of the cockpit, offset to the right. The pilot sat on an SEMB Mark 10 zero-zero ejection seat, a license-built version of the British Martin-Baker Mark 10.
The first Mirage 2000 to go into service was the single-seat "Mirage 2000C" interceptor / air combat variant. There were four single-seat prototypes, including the initial Mirage 2000 prototype mentioned above. The first production Mirage 2000C flew in November 1982. It was powered by a SNECMA M53-5 turbofan with 54.0 kN (5,500 kgp / 12,230 lbf) dry thrust and 86.3 kN (8,800 kgp / 19,400 lbf) afterburning thrust. Initial deliveries were in 1983. The first operational squadron was formed in 1984, the 50th anniversary of the French Armee de l'Air (AdA).
The first 37 Mirage 2000Cs delivered to the AdA were fitted with the Thompson-CSF (now Thales) "Radar Doppler Multifunction (RDM)", also known as the "Cyrano 500". The definitive "Radar Doppler Impulse (RDI)", built by Thompson-CSF and Dassault and offering much better look-down capability, did not enter operational service until 1987. The 38th Mirage 2000C delivered to the AdA featured the uprated SNECMA M53-P2 turbofan, with 64.7 kN (6,600 kgp / 14,500 lbf) dry thrust and 95.1 kN (9,700 kgp / 21,400 lbf) afterburning thrust.
|DASSAULT MIRAGE 2000C:|
|Wingspan||9.13 Meters||29 Feet 11.5 Inches|
|Wing Area||41 Sq_meters||441.3 Sq_feet|
|Length||14.36 Meters||47 Feet 1.25 Inches|
|Height||5.20 Meters||17 Feet|
|Empty Weight||7,500 Kilograms||16,500 Pounds|
|Max Loaded Weight||17,000 Kilograms||37,500 Pounds|
|Maximum Speed||2,340 KPH||1,450 MPH / 1,260 KT|
|Service Ceiling||18,000 Meters||59,000 Feet|
|Range||1,480 KM||920 MI / 800 NMI|
Standard avionics include a Sagem ULISS 52 inertial navigation system (INS), a central processor and an air data computer, TACAN beacon navigation system, ILS landing system, and radios. Initial defensive avionics fit included:
- A Thales Serval (Systeme d'Ecoute Radar et de Visualization de l'Alerte) radar warning receiver (RWR) with antennas on the wingtips and on the rear of the top of the tailfin.
- A Dassault Sabre (Systeme de Autoprotection par BRouillage Electromagnetiques) RF jammer in a pod below the bottom of the tailfin, and with an antenna in a fairing on the front of the tailfin.
- A Dassault Eclair dispenser system under the tail. This was eventually replaced by the Matra Spirale dispenser, with a capacity of 112 cartridges. One is fitted on an extension behind the rear of each wingroot, giving a total capacity of 224 cartridges.
The cockpit layout features mostly traditional analog instrumentation, though there was a head-down radar display and a head-up display (HUD).
Primary armaments of the Mirage 2000C in the interceptor role are the Matra Super 530 medium-range semi-active radar-guided air to air missile (AAM) on the inboard wing pylons, and the Matra Magic short-range infrared-seeking AAM on the outboard wing pylons. The Mirage 2000C can also carry air-to-ground stores, such as iron bombs, cluster bombs, or Matra 68-millimeter rocket pods, in its secondary strike role. It has no smart munitions capability, though it can carry laser-guided bombs (LGBs) if another aircraft or ground forces provide designation.
A total of 124 Mirage 2000Cs were obtained by the AdA. Standard colors consist of light gray on the bottom and a disruptive pattern of light gray and gray blue on top. AdA pilots found the "Deux-Mille" a marvelous aircraft to fly, with high performance, light and crisp control response, and an "eye watering" roll rate.
The machines have received upgrades in service, for example addition an "Non-Cooperative Target Recognition (NCTR)" mode to the RDI radar to allow identification of airborne targets not responding on IFF. Work is now underway for carriage of the new Matra MICA IR heatseeking missile, which will soon replace the Matra Magic on all AdA variants of the Mirage 2000.
MICA stands for "Missile d'Interception, de Combat et d'Autodefense / Intercept, Combat, & Self-Defense Missile". It is a lightweight and highly agile weapon, with a thrust-vectoring nozzle, and its infrared seeker can in principle provide video to the cockpit to act as an infrared search and track sensor. The radar-guided MICA EM variant provides a "fire and forget" capability, but it does not appear that the radar-guided MICA variant will be supported on the first-generation Mirage 2000s, probably due to lack of appropriate radar system support.
While the first four Mirage 2000 prototypes were all single-seat aircraft, there was a fifth, company-funded prototype of a tandem two-seat operational conversion trainer variant, the "Mirage 2000B", which performed its initial flight on 11 October 1980 with Michel Porta at the controls.
The Mirage 2000B has avionics kit comparable to the Mirage 2000C. It is combat-capable, and can carry all the external stores qualified for the Mirage 2000C. The Mirage 2000B does not have a built-in cannon, none of the two-seaters do, but it can carry the CC630 pod with twin 30 millimeter cannon and 300 rounds per gun. The ADA acquired 30 Mirage 2000Bs, with all three of the AdA fighter wings obtaining a few Mirage 2000Bs for conversion training.
French Mirage 2000s saw operational use during the Gulf War, though apparently they did not see much actual combat action. French Mirage 2000s have been prominent participants in UN and NATO air operations over the former Yugoslavia, with one aircraft shot down over Bosnia by a heat-seeking surface-to-air missile in 1996, prompting efforts to obtain improved defensive systems.
Dassault Mirage 2000E export variants
"Mirage 2000E" was a blanket designation for a series of export variants of the Mirage 2000, with the aircraft actually having a wide range of different designations, depending on the customer nation. These aircraft were fitted the M53-P2 engine and an enhanced "RDM+" radar, and all can carry the day-only ATLIS II laser targeting pod, though not all customers acquired it.
Egypt was the first buyer, ordering 16 single-seat "Mirage 2000Ms" and four "Mirage 2000BM" trainers in late 1981, with deliveries beginning in 1986. The Egyptians also purchased ATLIS II pods and a wide range of appropriate munitions for their shiny new Mirages, including Magic and Super 530 AAMs, AS-30L laser-guided ASMs, and Armat anti-radiation missiles.
India is a big user of the Mirage 2000. The order history is a bit complicated:
- The first part of an initial batch of 26 single-seaters and 4 two-seaters was shipped to the Indian Air Force (IAF) beginning in 1985 with the older M53-5 engine since India didn't want to wait on the M53-P2. These aircraft were given the designations of "Mirage 2000H5" and "Mirage 2000TH5".
- The second part of this initial batch consisted of ten more single-seaters with the M53-P2 engine, with these aircraft designated "Mirage 2000H". All the first batch was reengined with the M53-P2 over time, with the single-seaters redesignated "Mirage 2000H" and the two-seaters redesignated "Mirage 2000TH".
- A second batch of six Mirage 2000H single-seaters and three Mirage 2000TH two-seaters was shipped in 1987:1988.
This gives a total of 49 IAF Mirages, including 42 single-seaters and 7 two-seaters. In 2004, the Indian government approved purchase of ten more Mirage 2000Hs, with these machines featuring improved avionics, particularly an upgraded RDM 7 radar.
The IAF named the Mirage the "Vajra", loosely translated as "Thunderbolt". India also purchased appropriate stores along with the fighters, including ATLIS II pods and laser-guided weapons. It is rumored that India has assigned the nuclear strike role to their Mirage 2000s. They were used in 1998 during a major border clash with the Pakistanis in the mountains near Kashmir, dropping LGBs to good effect.
Peru placed an order that, after some complications, amounted to ten single-seat "Mirage 2000Ps" and two "Mirage 2000DP" trainers. The Peruvians ordered a set of munitions similar to that ordered by Egypt, along with ATLIS II targeting pods.
This first series of Mirage 2000Es sold to Egypt, India, and Peru were followed by a second series featuring modest avionics enhancements that was sold to Abu Dhabi of the UAE, and Greece.
Beginning in 1983, Abu Dhabi / UAE purchased 22 single-seat "Mirage 2000EADs"; 8 unique single-seat reconnaissance variants designated the "Mirage 2000RAD"; and 6 "Mirage 2000DAD" trainers, for a total order of 36 machines. The order specified an Italian-made defensive avionics suite that delayed delivery of the first of these aircraft until 1989. Abu Dhabi Mirages also flew in the Gulf War in 1991, but saw little or no action.
The "Mirage 2000RAD" reconnaissance variant does not have any built-in cameras or sensors, and the aircraft can still be operated in air combat or strike roles. The reconnaissance systems are implemented in pods, including the Thales / Raphael "SLAR 2000" radar pod; the Dassault "COR2" multi-camera pod with visible and infrared imaging capability; and the Dassault "AA-3-38 HAROLD" telescopic long-range optical camera pod. Abu Dhabi is the only nation operating such a "specialized" reconnaissance variant of the Mirage 2000 at this time.
Beginning in March 1985, the Greeks ordered 36 single-seat "Mirage 2000EGs" and 4 "Mirage 2000BG" two-seat trainers. They featured an "ICMS 1" defensive countermeasures suite, which was an updated version of the standard Mirage 2000C countermeasures suite, characterized by two small antennas near the top of the tailfin. These Mirage 2000s were later modified in the field to carry the Aerospatiale AM39 Exocet antiship missile.
Mirage 2000N Nuclear Strike variant
Since the Mirage 2000 was proposed to the French government as an alternative to the ACF, which was a strategic strike aircraft, of course there was interest in developing a dedicated strategic strike variant. This variant was intended to carry the Aerospatiale "Air-Sol Moyenne Portee (ASMP)" nuclear stand-off missile, development of which began in 1978.
The nuclear strike requirement materialized into an order in 1979 for two prototypes of a two-seat Mirage 2000 variant for this purpose, with a navigator / weapons system operator (WSO) occupying the back seat. The type was originally designated "Mirage 2000P", for "Penetration", but the designation was then changed to "Mirage 2000N", for "Nucleaire". Initial flight of the first of two prototypes, both new-build machines, was on 3 February 1983 with Michel Porta at the controls. The first flight of a production aircraft was in March 1986, and the type entered operational service in 1988. 75 were built.
The Mirage 2000N was derived from and looks much like the Mirage 2000B, with the M53-P2 engine, but the nuclear strike variant features strengthened wings for low altitude operation, as well as low-level precision navigation-attack systems, built around the Dassault / Thales "Antilope 5" radar, designed for the strike role and with with terrain-avoidance capability. Cockpit layout is analog, along the lines of that of the Mirage 2000B. The cockpit is night vision goggle (NVG) compatible. The Mirage 2000N also retains the ULISS 52 INS, Serval RWR, and Spirale dispensers (early production had the Eclair dispenser instead). However, the Sabre jammer was replaced by the improved Chameleon jammer.
Since the Mirage 2000N's standard weapon is the ASMP, which is carried on the centerline pylon, that means it can't carry a centerline tank, but a distinctive big 2,000 liter (530 US gallon) underwing drop tank with a bulbous nose was developed to more than compensate.
The ASMP missile is 5.38 meters (17 feet 8 inches) long and is propelled by a kerosene-powered ramjet, which allows it to cruise at Mach 3 after being brought up to speed by a solid-propellant booster. The weapon carries a 150 or 300 kilotonne warhead, and can follow terrain using a preprogrammed inertial navigation system to hit a target up to 100 kilometers (62 miles) away. An enhanced variant, the "ASMP-A", which will provide greater range and more accuracy, is now in development for introduction in 2008.
The Mirage 2000N carries a single ASMP and can carry Matra Magic AAMs for self-defense. The first 31 built could only carry the ASMP and were designated "Mirage 2000N-K1", but following machines could also carry conventional air-to-ground munitions and were designated "Mirage 2000N-K2". They could only carry dumb munitions, such as;
- Various types of iron bombs and Matra 68 millimeter unguided rocket pods.
- Belouga cluster bombs, BAP 100 anti-runway bomb clusters or Durandal runway cratering bombs, or BAT 120 antipersonnel / antiarmor bomb clusters.
- 30 millimeter cannon pods.
Like the Mirage 2000C, the Mirage 2000N-K2 can carry LGBs but they would have to be spotted by another aircraft or by ground forces. The AdA has reserved the Mirage 2000N for the nuclear strike role and has not been eager to assign it other missions.
At the turn of the century, an update program was initiated to improve the defensive countermeasures system. The existing kit was enhanced to provide an electronic intelligence (ELINT) capability, allowing the aircraft to record data on adversary emitters for post-flight intelligence analysis. A SAT Samir "Detecteur de Depart Missile (DDM)" missile-warning system was also added, being attached to the back of the Magic AAM pylons. The Samir DDM picks up the flash of a missile launch, warns the aircrew and can automatically activate chaff-flare dispensers.
Retirement of various air assets has forced the AdA to relax the "nuclear only" policy on the Mirage 2000N, and the type will be modified for the tactical reconnaissance role, carrying the "Pod de Reconnaissance Nouvelle Generation / Pod Reco NG / New Generation Reconnaissance Pod", now being built by Thales for service introduction in 2006. The Pod Reco NG will provide digital reconnaissance capabilities, with both day and night imagers; a digital data recorder system; and a datalink to provide real-time relay of imagery to battlefield commanders. Aircraft with the updated countermeasures system and capable of carrying both the ASMP-A missile and the Ped Reco NG will be redesignated "Mirage 2000-K3".
MIRAGE 2000D CONVENTIONAL STRIKE VARIANT
Delays in the Dassault Rafale advanced fighter program led to an AdA announcement in 1986 of a development program for an updated Mirage 2000N dedicated to conventional attack, originally designated the "Mirage 2000N Prime". It was to complement AdA SEPECAT Jaguar daylight strike fighters by providing a night / bad weather attack capability.
Formal development began in 1988. The designation was changed to "Mirage 2000D" in 1990, with the "D" standing for "Diversifie / Multirole". Initial flight of the Mirage 2000D prototype, a modified Mirage 2000N prototype, was on 19 February 1991. That led to first flight of a production aircraft 31 March 1993 and introduction to service in April 1995. 86 were built in all to last delivery in 2001.
The Mirage 2000D features:
- An NVG-compatible cockpit, with improved "hands on throttle and stick (HOTAS)" controls and a partial "glass cockpit" arrangement. The pilot obtained a second display, and the back-seater received two more for a total of three.
- A modernized ULISS 52P navigation system with Global Positioning System (GPS) capability,
- An improved Antilope 50 terrain-following system.
- An updated "ICMS 2" countermeasures system, with Serval RWR, Chameleon jammer, and Spirale dispensers.
One distinguishing feature of the Mirage 2000D is that it does not have a nose pitot probe. Early machines were delivered with limited offensive stores capability and were upgraded as more stores were qualified. Full-specification "Mirage 2000D-R1" aircraft could carry stores such as:
- All major dumb munitions, such as iron bombs, Belouga cluster bombs, Durandal runway breaker bombs, BAP 100 and BAP 120 clusters, Matra 68 millimeter rocket pods, and cannon pods.
- Laser-guided weapons such as the AS-30L missile or French and US LGBs, with the munitions directed by a ATLIS II or improved optical-infrared PDLCT and high-resolution PDLCTS targeting pods, attached to a pylon under the right air intake. Carriage of the next-generation Damocles pod is now under consideration. The navigator / WSO in the back seat handles laser targeting while the pilot in the front flies the aircraft.
- The Armat antiradar missile, though this is rarely carried.
Some sources mention that the Mirage 2000D can also carry the Exocet antishipping missile, but the Exocet requires some additional aircraft radar system modes for maritime targeting. It seems that Exocet carriage is an option that is specifically requested by Mirage 2000 users who want it.
The first upgraded "Mirage 2000D-R2" machine was delivered in 2001. It featured an enhanced countermeasures suite, noticeably featuring twin 24-shot flare dispensers on each side of the spine at the front of the tailfin. Further enhancements are being implemented for carriage of the APACHE and SCALP-EG cruise missiles, as well as carriage of the new low-cost AASM family of modular precision guided bombs, now in development. The AdA would also like to add a Link-16 Multifunction Information Distribution System (MIDS) datalink and a SATURN (Second-generation Anti-Jam Tactical UHF Radio for NATO) encrypted radio.
There has been talk of modifying some Mirage 2000Ds for the offensive countermeasures role, carrying high-power jamming gear and operating somewhat like the US Grumman EA-6B Prowler to protect other air assets. No commitment has been made on this scheme, however.
AdA Mirage 2000Ds served in the intervention in Afghanistan in 2001:2002, operating in close conjunction with international forces and performing precision attacks with LGBs.
By the late 1980s, the Mirage 2000 was beginning to age relative to the competition, and export sales slumped. Dassault and Thompson-CSF began work on a privately-funded update of the Mirage 2000C to compete with the latest models of US F-16 fighters. The new "Mirage 2000-5" was to feature updated avionics and MICA missile armament. A two-seat Mirage 2000B prototype was extensively modified as the first Mirage 2000-5 prototype, first flying on 24 October 1990 with Patrick Experton at the controls. A Mirage 2000C prototype was then reworked to a similar standard, performing its initial flight on 27 April 1991.
Mirage 2000-5 variants are externally difficult to distinguish from first-generation Mirage 2000 variants, and possess the same SNECMA M53-P2 engine. The only really visible difference from a Mirage 2000C is that the Mirage 2000-5 lacks a nose pitot probe. However, the avionics system has been almost completely modernized, featuring:
- The Thales multimode "Radar Doppler Multitarget" ("RDY" in its French acronym). The RDY radar is the heart of the upgrade, providing true multitarget tracking. It can guide four MICA EMs to different targets simultaneously.
- A more powerful processor.
- The updated ICMS 2 countermeasures suite, along with the Samir DDM missile warning system.
- A new glass cockpit layout borrowed from the Rafale program with three color MFDs, a dual linked wide-angle HUD / head-level display, and HOTAS controls. There is a high degree of cockpit automation; for example, the fire control system will automatically prioritize threats. The cockpit is of course NVG compatible.
The Mirage 2000-5 can also carry the oversized drop tanks developed for the Mirage 2000N, greatly extending range. Only the radar-guided MICA EM has been qualified for carriage at this time, with a Mirage 2000-5 carrying four such weapons in addition to two Matra Magic IIs, though eventually MICA IR will become standard.
A two-seater version was developed as well. The back-seater has the HUD but not the associated head-level display, and as with first-generation two-seaters, there are no built-in cannon though cannon pods can be carried.
Dassault needed an order from the AdA to help promote foreign sales, and after some lobbying, in 1993 the AdA decided to upgrade 37 of their existing Mirage 2000s to 2000-5 specification as a stopgap before the arrival of the Rafale in AdA service. The upgraded aircraft were redesignated "Mirage 2000-5F", and became operational in 2000. They retained the old countermeasures system with the Serval / Sabre / Spirale units and did not receive the ICMS 2 system. The aircraft upgraded were later production Mirage 2000Cs and their RDI radars were passed on to older Mirage 2000Cs with the early RDM radar.
The AdA is now considering upgrades for the type, including the MIDS datalink, MICA IR support, and the Thales Topsight helmet-mounted display / sighting system.
This was not actually the first order for the Mirage 2000-5. In 1992, the Taiwanese Air Force ordered 48 single-seat "Mirage 2000-5EIs" and 12 "Mirage 2000-5DI" trainers, with introduction of the first squadron in 1997 and the last fighters delivered in 1999. The Taiwanese ordered a set of ASTAC electronic intelligence (ELINT) pods for their Mirages.
In 1994, Qatar ordered nine single-seat "Mirage 2000-5EDAs" and three "Mirage 2000-5DDA" trainers, with initial deliveries in late 1997.
MIRAGE 2000-5 MARK 2
Dassault extended the improvements of the Mirage 2000-5 a bit further with the "Mirage 2000-5 Mark 2", which is an enhanced, fully multirole version of the Mirage 2000-5. The Mirage 2000-9 features:
- A Thales RDY-2 radar. The RDY-2 radar is similar in configuration to the original RDY, but features two new air-to-ground modes, including a high-resolution "synthetic aperture radar (SAR)" imaging mode with a "moving target indicator (MTI)" capability to provide an all-weather, day / night targeting capability. The radar features "low probability of intercept (LPI)" operation, with the output pattern varying in a seemingly random pattern that prevents an adversary RWR from recognizing that it has been targeted.
- The high-power "Modular Data Processing Unit (MDPU)" designed for the Rafale.
- A new Thales Totem 3000 INS with ring-laser gyros and GPS capability, providing much greater accuracy, higher reliability, and shorter alignment time than the old ULISS 52 system. It works in conjunction with a terrain-following system.
- An on-board oxygen generation system (OBOGS).
- An improved, classified "ICMS 3" digital countermeasures suite.
- An optional SATURN secure radio.
The cockpit was updated as well, with the same general layout but with larger color displays and other modernizations. The Thales Topsight helmet-mounted display / sighting system is offered as an option. The Mirage 2000-5 Mark 2 also includes a datalink for the targeting of MICA ER missiles and can carry the Damocles targeting pod.
Abu Dhabi / UAE was the launch customer, ordering 32 new-build aircraft, including 20 single-seaters as the "Mirage 2000-9" and 12 two-seaters as the "Mirage 2000-9D". These featured a classified countermeasures system designated "IMEWS" comparable to ICMS 3. Initial deliveries of the UAE Mirages were in the spring of 2003. 30 of Abu Dhabi's older Mirage 2000s will also be upgraded to Mirage 2000-9 capability.
The UAE Mirage 2000-9s are well-equipped for the strike mission, since they are being provided with the "Shehab" laser targeting pod, a variant of the Damocles, and the Nahar navigation pod, complementing the air-to-ground modes of the RDY-2 radar. The UAE is also obtaining the "Black Shahin" cruise missile, which is basically a variant of the APACHE. No doubt AdA pilots are a bit irritated that the UAE is operating Mirage 2000s well in advance of their own mounts.
In 2000, Greece ordered a batch of 25 Mirage 2000-5 Mark 2 fighters. The order included 15 new-build aircraft and 10 upgrades from existing Greek Mirage 2000EGs, with aircraft featuring the SATURN secure radio. Apparently the Greek order does not include any upgrades of two-seaters.
Dassault is also competing for a Brazilian deal with the "Mirage 2000 BR", another variant of the Mirage 2000-9, with the French company partnering with EMBRAER of Brazil on the deal, though due to Brazilian budget problems the competition has dragged on for years. The Indian Air Force would like to buy 124 Mirage 2000-5 fighters but the government hasn't given the go-ahead and is suggesting that the IAF cast around for possible alternatives. Ironically, Dassault so far has had absolutely no luck promoting the Rafale on the export market, while the less-expensive new Mirage 2000s with Rafale technology are selling well.
Another piece of Rafale technology being ported to the Mirage 2000 is the Thales AIDA visual identification pod, which includes infrared and optical sensors for IFF and targeting. It will be used by AdA Mirage 2000-5Fs. Further development of the second-generation type is expected to include a GPS receiver, MIDS datalink, and unspecified long-range sensors.
Dassault Mirage 4000
The "Mirage 4000" was a scaled-up version of the Mirage 2000, initially with twin SNECMA M53-2 engines. It was originally announced in late 1975 as the "Delta Super Mirage", with a mockup displayed two years later and first flight in early 1979. It is believed the project was riding on some degree of Saudi Arabian interest.
The Mirage 4000 had an empty weight 74% greater than that of the Mirage 2000. The Mirage 4000 was comparable in size to the US F-15 Eagle or the Russian Su-27 fighters. It had canards mounted on the air intakes.
The Mirage 4000 was a Dassault private venture. It was intended to be used as an interceptor and for low-level strike, with a warload of 8 tonnes (17,600 pounds) carried on 11 stores pylons. Extensive internal fuel tankage gave it long range. Like other Mirage delta fighters, it carried twin 30 millimeter cannon.
|DASSAULT MIRAGE 4000:|
|Wingspan||12 Meters||39 Feet 4 Inches|
|Wing Area||73 Sq_meters||758.8 Sq_feet|
|Length||18.7 Meters||61 Feet 4 Inches|
|Empty Weight||13,000 Kilograms||28,660 Pounds|
|Typical Loaded Weight||17,000 Kilograms||37,500 Pounds|
|Maximum Speed||2,445 KPH||1,520 MPH / 1,320 KT|
|Service Ceiling||20,000 Meters||65,600 Feet|
|Combat Radius||2,000 KM||1,245 MI / 1,080 NMI|
The aircraft was partly built of composite materials. Only one was built, and flew in test and demonstrations during the early 1980s, during which it was updated to SNECMA M53-5 engines.
Dassault had no buyers for the big Mirage 4000 and it was mothballed for a few years, but pulled out of retirement in 1986 with a spiffy new desert camouflage scheme to be used as a test platform for the Rafale fighter. By 1995, however, it had taken up permanent residence as an exhibit at the Paris Air & Space Museum.