Inducted in the 1980s to counter the Pakistani F-16, the Mirage 2000 was India’s first “multirole” fighter, capable of shooting down enemy aircraft as well as ground strikes on the enemy.
In the 1999 Kargil war, Mirage 2000 fighters played a prominent role, having been “jury rigged” to carry precision-guided bombs.
In 2000, the Indian Air Force and Dassault, which built the Mirage 2000, proposed shifting the entire production unit to India, where 126 more Mirage 2000s could be built, to replace the IAF’s retiring MiG-21 fleet.
This was turned down by the NDA government of that time, and a fresh tender issued for 126 MMRCAs, which the Dassault Rafale finally won in 2012.
The Mirage 2000’s strong multi-role capability made them a natural choice for the cross-LOC strikes.
The Mirage 2000’s Thales RDY2 radar tracks air and ground targets at long ranges. Its new MICA missile can strike enemy aircraft at “beyond visual range” and strike ground targets from up to 80 kilometres away with the Crystal Maze bombs under its wings.
Helmet Mounted Display Sights (HMDS) allow pilots to aim weapons merely by looking at them.
IAF has 48 Mirage 2000 fighters, distributed between three squadrons:
No 1 Squadron: “Tigers”
No. 7 Squadron: “Battleaxes”
No. 9 Squadron: “Wolfpack”
These fighters are being upgraded to the Mirage 2000 I standard by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) under a Rs 17,547 crore contract.