Mirage 2000-5 will not compete but complement F-16 in Ukrainian skies -- experts

Mirage 2000-5 will not compete but complement F-16 in Ukrainian skies -- experts

Ukrinform has found out how this French-made jet fighter can contribute to Ukraine’s self-defense capability.

On June 6, the French President announced that his country is going to provide Mirage 2000-5 fighter jets to Ukraine. In addition, Paris, in a collaboration with allies fielding these aircraft, will train Ukrainian pilots to fly them.

Ukraine has long awaited such a move from France, specifically because the French fighters are carriers of the SCALP cruise missiles which our country already has in its armory, deploying them on Su-24M jets.

The training program for Ukrainian pilots and other personnel is expected to take some six months and start anytime soon. But it’s a question whether or not Ukraine will be able to receive these planes by the end of 2024.

Whatever is the case, the Mirage 2000 will definitely be here in Ukraine. What are this French "bird" and its modification bound for Ukraine renowned for?


The Mirage 2000 is a French multirole, single-engine, delta wing, fourth-generation jet fighter manufactured by Dassault Aviation. Developed back in the 1970s, it has been the core fighter aircraft within the French Air Force fleet since the 1980s, but it is currently phased out in favor of more recent generation counterpart, the Dassault Rafale.

It is also known that the Mirage 2000 was adopted for service by the armed forces of several countries in Asia, Europe and South America, with Greece and Taiwan among them.

Overall, more than 600 such aircraft have been manufactured.

The Mirage 2000 was discontinued from production in 2007. An array of different variants and modifications of this aircraft have been developed:

• 2000C – single-seat fighter-interceptor.

• 2000B – two seat operational conversion trainer variant

• 2000D – conventional attack variant;

• 2000E – export variant of the Mirage 2000;

• 2000ED – export variant of the Mirage 2000B, featuring an RDM radar capability and an M53-P2 engine;

• 2000N – dedicated nuclear-strike variant;

• 2000R – single-seat reconnaissance variant;

• 2000S – export version of the 2000D variant;

• 2000-5 – export upgrade with improved radar and control capabilities to conduct air surveillance and aircraft management.

The Mirage 2000-5 is one of the newest modifications President Macron committed to provide for Ukraine.

Mirage 2000-5 cockpit interior
Mirage 2000-5 cockpit interior

Mirage-2000-5. General characteristics:

• crew – 1 (2 in the combat capable trainer variant);

• maximum air speed – 2,340 kilometers per hour;

• maximum airspeed at sea level – 1,110 kilometers per hour;

• range – 3,335 km;

• service ceiling – 18,000 m;

• rate of climb – 284 m/s;

• length – 14.36 m;

• height – 5.30 m;

• wingspan – 9.13 m;

• wing area – 41 m²;

• take-off weight – ​​13,800 kg;


• guns – ​​2 x 30 mm DEFA 554 revolver cannons (French-made aircraft cannons firing NATO-standard 30 mm rounds);

• number of hardpoints – 9 total (5x under fuselage, 4x under wing) with a capacity of 6,300 kg external fuel and ordnance;

The cost of the Mirage 2000 varies among different variants and modifications. The baseline variant, for example, sells for some USD 43 million and the 2000D version for USD 65.8 million.


The Mirage 20002s count with a long and solid track record of participation in military conflicts and campaigns:

• Gulf War: the French Mirage 2000s were used during the Gulf War where they flew high-altitude air defense for USAF U-2 reconnaissance aircraft.

• Bosnian War and Kosovo War. During Operation Deliberate Force, on August 30, 1995, one Mirage 2000D was shot down over Bosnia by a 9K38 Igla shoulder-launched missile fired by air defense units of the army of Republika Srpska.

• French Mirage 2000s later served with the International Security Assistance Force during the conflict in Afghanistan in 2001-02, operating in close conjunction with international forces and performing precision-attacks with laser-guided bombs;

• In the summer of 2007, after the Dassault Rafale fighters had been removed from the theater of operations, three French Mirage 2000s were deployed to Afghanistan in support of NATO troops;

• French Mirage 2000s were committed to enforcing the no-fly zone in Libya as part of Operation Harmattan in 2011;

• On 14 April 2018, four French Mirage 2000-5Fs participated in a joint military operation against the Syrian government with the UK and U.S. during the Syrian Civil War;

• On 9 March, 2024, two French Mirage 2000-5Fs participated in the downing of two Houthi drones over the Red Sea in support of Operation Prosperity Guardian, marking the first French aerial victories since World War II.


• "Mirage 2000-5 is an extensively modified version of the Mirage 2000-B prototype. This was further upgraded to the Mirage-2000-5F specification, which became operational in 2000. Some three dozen Mirage 2000-5F warplanes are currently in operational service with the French Air Force, according to the military news website The War Zone.

The Mirage 2000-5F differs from the Mirage 2000-5 export version by featuring additional improvements, particularly in terms of self-defense capabilities. The centrepiece of the Mirage 2000-5 overhaul is the Thomson-CSF RDY (radar Doppler multitarget) with look down/shoot down capability. 

"These radars offer better performances compared to the RDI/RDM radars seen on the older versions of the Mirage 2000, which can only operate in air-to-air mode, whereas the RDY in its export version and its upgraded variant 5F are adding an air-to-ground capability for control of the AM39 Exocet Block II and Kormoran 2 anti-ship missiles among other weapons", an expert of The War Zone explains.

Further to this, the RDY radars on the Mirage 2000-5/5F variants provide the capability to track a larger number of targets simultaneously: "This could be of special value for Ukraine, who constantly faces threats from Russia’s low-flying cruise missiles and self-destroying drones."

The Mirage 2000-5F upgrade provides another advantage such as to be able to serve as an additional carrier platform for valuable Western munitions, including different versions of the French MICA short- to-medium-range multipurpose all-weather air-to-air missiles. That said, the 5F variant can deploy air-to-ground attack missiles France is already supplying to Ukraine – the SCALP-EG cruise missiles (a complete analogue to the British Storm Shadow) and high-precision long-range AASM Hammer bombs.

Meanwhile it remains uncertain which of the two upgrades Ukraine will receive - the most advanced variant of this type of aircraft, the Mirage 2000-5F, or the Mirage 2000-5 upgrade. Analysts at The War Zone are doubtful about the former option, given that those fighters are planned to remain in operational service with the French Air Forces till the late 2020s or the early 2030s. The analysts don’t expect that  the French warplane package for Ukraine would include the most advanced modifications or variants, but, rather, will be comprised of older versions.

Alternatively, France may have additional Mirage 2000-5Fs in storage which it could transfer to Ukraine. The question also arises whether Paris would be willing to transfer to Ukraine the Mirage 2000-5 aircraft it had sold to foreign air forces earlier. Greece, in early 2024, announced the intention to sell out its fleet of Mirage 2000-5s as part of a fighter fleet optimization program. There has also been a multi-year debate about whether Taiwan would retire some portion or all of its Mirage 2000-5 fleet.

SCALP missile
SCALP missile

Meanwhile, that said, analysts with Defense Express are doubtful that the Mirage 2000-5 fighters will be sufficiently effective in missions aimed to "chase away hostile tactical aircraft", but will be more useful for the missions as follows:

• delivering long-range strikes with Storm Shadow/SCALP cruise missiles, as well as Exocet anti-ship missiles, which, in their latest versions, have the air-to ground capability;

• front-edge missions involving strikes with long-range bombs, such, for example, as AASM Hammer (and potentially even JDAM-ER and SDB);

• supporting air defense of rear areas. "The Mirage 2000-5 can perfectly tackle the task of intercepting cruise missiles and Shahed UAV’s, using not only the new MICA missiles, but also the older Matra R550 Magic short-range air-to-air missiles," Defense Express experts say.


The Mirage 2000-5F is apparently the modification of the Mirage 2000 that Paris is preparing to transfer to Ukraine; it can perform the tasks of both a front-line fighter and a fighter-bomber. The latest upgrade to the Dassault Mirage, the 2000-5F includes improvements that made it the 4th Gen fighter,” Pavlo Lakiichuk, director of military programs at the "Strategy for the 21st Century" think tank told Ukrinform.

Mirage warplanes, equipped with a nuclear weapons launching capability (like the Russian Su-24Ms, by the way) make up part of France’s nuclear triad.

"The Mirage 2000-5F can deploy MICA-EM active radar homing fire-and-forget missiles, along with the SCALP/Storm Shadow cruise missiles the Ukrainian soldiers are already familiar with. The Mirage-2000-5 can also deploy the MBDA’s Exocet anti-ship missile, which in its latest versions provides the capability to engage ground targets, as well. Furthermore, the aircraft can be used for attacks on hostile radars using the AS37 Armat radar capability," the expert explains.

As was shown, there is a pretty generous selection of weapons available for the French "warbird".

Pavlo Lakiichuk
Pavlo Lakiichuk

"The French Air Force is switching over to a newer and more advanced fighter, the Dassault’s Rafale, due in part to the impending closure of the Mirage 2000 production line. This is probably what caused Paris to quite easily agree to transfer its Mirage 2000 fighters to Ukraine. The French Air Force still retains in service a fleet of Mirage 2000 aircraft, including 27 x M2000-5F fighters (which I think is the version France is going to transfer to Ukraine), 7 x Mirage 2000B combat capable trainer airplanes (it would be good for us to get at least a couple of them), as well 60 x Mirage 2000D fighter-bombers, which comprise part of the "French nuclear fist," Mr. Lakiichuk further noted.

But the French are not going to give up the latter aircraft. On the contrary, they are upgrading the fleet to the more capable M2000D RMV specification.

As specified by the expert, “the first thing that comes to mind when talking about the Mirage 2000-5 is that these French warplanes are going to replace the pretty modest fleet of Su-24M front-line bombers -- the only SCALP/Storm Shadow missile carriers the Ukrainian Air Force has in operational use”.   

"That being said, the Su-24M Dragons based at Starokostiantyniv air base have already lived a very long service life and therefore need to be replaced. Alongside this, the Mirage would allow our Air Force to more effectively utilize the SCALP EG and AASM capabilities provided by our allies. We should not forget that the Mirage is primarily a fighter. The aircraft tackles the tasks of air defense perfectly well, intercepting cruise missiles and Shahed UAV’s with Matra R550 Magic close-range air-to-air missiles, and it can also deploy the latest versions of the MICA missile. The French warplanes could provide complementary support to our MiG-29s much the same as the planned F-16s," the director of military programs at "Strategy for the 21st Century" think tank has said.

On a different note, if you compare the Mirage 2000-5 with the F-16, you can find many similarities and many differences between them. Both are single-engine monoplanes with an airframe developed in the 1970s. Both have undergone lots of upgrades, and their modern modifications are standardized according to NATO criteria. But, as the expert says, "the devil is in the details".

"The Mirage 2000-5 upgrade, for example, doesn’t integrate the AIM-120 AMRAAM air-to-air missile, which, deployed on the C8 version, is capable of reaching targets as far as up to 160 kilometers away (this is the missile we want to be included in the F-16 delivery package to fend off hostile Su-34 bombers carrying glide bombs). The baseline air-to-air MICA missile on the Mirage warplanes operated by the Kyrgyz Air Force isn’t capable of ranges longer than 80 kilometers, a clearly insufficient range for the tasks facing our Air Force. But the F-16, as far as it is concerned, is not capable enough to deploy the SCALP/Storm Shadow, which is a common weapon for the Mirage. What matters here is that the F-16 and Mirage 2000 will not compete in our skies, but will complement each other, creating a synergy," Pavlo Lakiichuk emphasizes.

Oleksandr Kovalenko, a military columnist with the "Information Resistance" group, singles out combat payload of the Mirage 2000 as what he thinks deserves attention most.

Oleksandr Kovalenko
Oleksandr Kovalenko

"With just nine hardpoints, five under the fuselage and four under the wings, this aircraft is hard to be considered a record holder in terms of the weight of the combat payload. But the armament package it can deploy is remarkable. This can include air-to-air missiles: MBDA MICA IR/RF (fire-and-forget multipurpose all-weather missile with a range of up to 60 km), Matra R550 Magic-II (with a range of 20 km), Matra Super 530 D (capable of ranges of 20 to 40 km, depending on the modification); air-to-surface missiles: AM.39 Exocet (it can reach targets at ranges of from 40 km to 200 km, depending on the modification), and Storm Shadow/SCALP EG (from 250 km to 560 km, depending on the modification),” Mr. Kovalenko explains.

No less interesting is the range of the bombs used: GBU-12, 16, 24, 49... These are all high-precision gliding bombs capable of ranges from 15 to 20 km and a little longer, depending on the type.

"The Mirage 2000-5 has received a new radar, the cockpit has been redesigned, three multifunctional displays have been added, along with some other ergonomic improvements. Other performances such as airspeed, maneuverability, etc. have also been improved to some extent, the military analysts says.

Furthermore to this, the expert goes on to note, the Mirage 2000-5 even outperforms the F-16 in some aspects: "The Mirage 2000-5 can reach a maximum altitude of up to 18 kilometers and a maximum airspeed of 2,300 kilometers per hour, which is a decent performance for an aircraft in this class. Compare this with the F-16, which is capable of altitudes of up to 15 kilometers and airspeeds of up to 2,000-2,2000 kilometers per hour. The difference is small, but still significant."

But along with the good side, the Mirage 2000 has a bad side as well.

"The F-16 has a way wider weapons package [than is available for the Mirage 2000]. On top of that, the French have few Mirage 2000-5s, and so the fleet they’ll transfer to us will be insufficient to fully replace our fleet of outdated Su-24s. Maintenance and repair is another issue. These two brands of aircraft have much in common, but they are also quite different. But that notwithstanding, the French "birds" will definitely not be superfluous in the Ukrainian Air Force’s fleet,” Oleksandr Kovalenko believes.

Military expert with Defense Express, Ivan Kyrychevskyi provides his comment: "This aircraft actually has so many different sub-variants that it is pretty difficult to figure it out even with reference materials at hand. Well, for example, how it is that the Mirage 2000-5 fighters in the Greek Air Force service can deploy SCALP-EG missiles, while same aircraft in the French Air Force service are for air defense only..."

Still the Mirage 2000 is believed to be the option that suites best the needs of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

Ivan Kyrychevslyi
Ivan Kyrychevslyi

"For example, if the Mirage 2000-5s are provided to us configured to carry AASM Hammer glide bombs and MICA air-to-air missiles only, it will be a good tool for air defense of Ukraine’s rear areas and for the role of "flying artillery" in near the front line areas. And if suddenly there will be the Mirages optimized for long-range SCALP-EG cruise missiles, well, we will be able to release the Su-24s and upgrade them so they can carry, say, Taurus missiles. Furthermore, the Mirage 2000 will perhaps be easier to master than the F-16, given that, as Macron said, the pilot and maintenance personnel training program for the Mirage will take as little as six months," Mr Kyrychevskyi said.

In the early 2000s, the French Air Force, as an experiment, explored how long the basic training of pilots with experience of flying the MiG-29 could take. They were able to handle it in three months’ time to train the pilots in everything from take-off to landing.

"Come what may, the Ukrainian requirement for two hundred Western-made warplanes to secure our skies still remains on the table. The F-16s alone will not suffice to fill this requirement," Ivan Kyrychevskyi summed up.

Myroslav Liskovych. Kyiv

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