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Despite Rafale, Why is India still boosting its Mirage-2000 Squadron? Here's the reasons of it

Source : WION

Despite Rafale, Why Is India Still Boosting Its Mirage-2000 Squadron? Here's the reasons
Indian Air Force Mirage-2000 Fighters (File Photo)


Indian Air Force has received two Mirage-2000 trainer version aircraft from France.

The two aircraft arrived at the Gwalior airbase recently. The two aircraft were reportedly acquired by the Indian Air Force (IAF) to boost the number of Mirage fighter fleet to around 50.

India has reasons to keep the IAF in fighting fit condition amid tensions with China along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

The IAF is set to receive all Rafale jets by April next year, added to the Mirage's strength - the two fighter squadron will give added strength to the IAF in the snowy terrain along the LAC this winter. The IAF has reportedly acquired around 51 Mirage fighters in different batches and they form three squadrons which are based in the Gwalior Air Force station.

According to ANI sources, the Mirage upgrade deal between the French and Indian sides was for enhancing the capabilities of 51 aircraft and some of these kits are left due to crashes involving these planes.

The same kits can be put on these two French Air Force planes and make them suitable for combat operations, the sources told ANI.

India's Go-To Fighter

Mirage-2000 is India's go-to aircraft whenever it calls for an air strike. The French-built jet can be scrambled in less than six minutes making it India's No-1 air warrior. India had received its first batch of super fighters back in 1985 from French company Dassault.

India used the fighter jet extensively for the first time during the Kargil conflict in 1999 during 'Operation Vijay'. It employed the 'PAVEWAY' Laser Guided Bomb (LGB) in the Kargil heights flying nearly 200 missions. It was the first instance when the Indian Air Force used laser-guided missiles.

The Indian Air Force Mirage-2000 pounded Tiger Hill despite it being defended by Pakistani Stinger missiles. The Mirage also conducted air strikes in Drass and Tololing as Pakistani positions wilted.

IAF's Role During Kargil War

According to the Air Force, the Mirage-2000 flew 500 sorties which included 240 strike missions during the Kargil conflict. The Mirage-2000 conducted airstrikes 24x7 during the month long operation. One mirage squadron flew 274 operational sorties during the operations in the hills.

The Indian Air Force had termed the Kargil conflict as "Operation Safed Sagar" as it provided air support to ground troops. India used MiGs - MiG-21s, MiG-23s, MiG-27s, including Jaguars to push back Pakistani soldiers. The IAF also used Mi-8 and the Mi-17 attack choppers to repel the Pakistani army holding various positions.

The Mirage proved its worth in high-altitude bombing campaigns in low visibility helping the Indian army to gain ground control.

Bombed JeM Terror Camps

The Balakot-based Jaish-e-Mohammad terror camp was destroyed by the Indian Air Force Mirage-2000 was located on the bank of the Kunhar river in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan and was also used by the Hizbul Mujahideen terror group.

The Balakot camp was an important training centre for the JeM and other terror organisations and it had several structures to accommodate terrorist trainees and facilities to train them.

Situated on the Kunhar river, the Balakot camp offered possibility of aquatic training to terrorists and housed hundreds of terrorists.

The camp, 20 kms from the Balakot town, was used for "battle inoculation" and its trainers were ex-officers of the Pakistan Army. Several "inspirational lectures" were delivered by JeM founder and terror mastermind Masood Azhar and other terrorist leaders on several occasions.

Specialises In Long-Range Targets

The Mirage was preferred as it is capable of long-range engagement of targets and the assessment was that it can record 100 per cent success rate.

India had inducted the Mirage jets around 30 years back and they are being upgraded at a cost of around Rs 20,000 crore.

The aircraft can reach up to a height of 60,000 feet and is capable of reaching a speed of Mach 2.2, according to Dassault Aviation. Mirage-2000 has nine hardpoints for carrying weapon system payloads: five on the fuselage and two on each wing.

The single-seat version is also armed with two internally mounted, high-firing-rate 30 mm guns. The Mirage fighter jets used the laser-guided bombs at targets on top of the Tiger Hill at an altitude of more than 17,000 feet during the Kargil War.

The destruction of Pakistani post atop the Tiger Hill gave India the strategic advantage as it overlooked the Drass town and National Highway 1A the lifeline between Srinagar and Leh.

Upgraded Jets

The similar laser-guided bombs were used in destroying the terror launch pads during the pre-dawn strike in Balakot in February, 2019.

India had signed a $2.4 billion deal with France in 2011 to upgrade 51 Mirage-2000 fighters, which were purchased in the mid-1980s, with new electronic warfare systems and radar.

The upgraded Mirage jets were delivered to India in April, 2018.

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