The Dassault-made Mirage 2000 is undoubtedly one of the Indian Air Force’s most versatile and deadliest fighter jet, deployed during the surgical strike in 2019 and Kargil war in 1999.
The Indian Air Force currently possesses many capable fighters, including the Dassault Rafale, Sukhoi Su-30 MKI and HAL Tejas LCA. Another French-made fighter – Dassault Mirage 2000, a superior fighter jet. The Dassault-made Mirage 2000 is undoubtedly one of the Indian Air Force’s most versatile and deadliest fighter jet, deployed during the surgical strike in 2019 and Kargil war in 1999.
In India Mirage-2000 is known as Vajra, meaning lightening thunderbolt in Sanskrit. India placed an initial order of 36 single-seater Mirage-2000 and 4 twin-seater Mirage 2000 in 1982 as an answer to Pakistan buying US-made F-16 fighter jets by Lockheed Martin. Later, the Indian Air Force placed an additional order of 10 Mirage-2000 planes in 2004, taking the total tally to 50 jets. In 2011, IAF upgraded the existing Mirage-2000 jets to Mirage 2000-5 Mk, increasing their life. Dassault built an estimated 580 Mirage-2000s over a course of 30 years and the jet was replaced with Rafale, also a part of Indian Air Force.
The Mirage 2000 uses a single shaft SNECMA M53 engine that is light and simple as compared to other fighter jets. The engine pushes the jet to a maximum speed of Mach 2.2 and can travel 1550 km with drop tanks. The flight height is capped at 17km.
The Mirage 2000 has a fly-by-wire flight control system and has a Sextant VE-130 HUD, which displays data related to flight control, navigation, target engagement, and weapon firing. In terms of the armament, the Mirage 2000 can carry laser guided bombs, air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles and has a Thomson radar on board.
In an attempt to practise using highways and expressways for emergency landings, Indian Air Force, time and again performs exercise to land jets, and in 2018, a Mirage 2000 jet successfully test landed on the Yamuna Expressway in Uttar Pradesh.
The Mirage 2000 has been deployed in multiple operations to carry out Surgical Strikes thanks to its load-carrying capacity, precision, Laser Guided Bombs and latest technology updates. Most notably, the Mirage was deployed during the 1999 Kargil War and during the Balakote surgical strike in 2019. Air Marshal B S Dhanoa, who was the commanding officer of the 17 Squadron at the time of the war, at the event, said deploying Mirage 2000 jets and air support to ground forces had turned the tide of the 1999 war in favour of India.
At that time, the Indian Mirage-2000 was equipped with an important device that was the Israeli Litening laser designator pod, which, when ‘pulsed’, marks targets with an invisible beam. This beam is essentially the “path” that laser-guided bombs follow on being launched. The bombs track the laser and fly to the precisely selected point of impact.
On June 24, 1999, a Mirage 2000 commanded by Wing Commander Raghunath Nambiar pulsed a laser from the Litening pod mounted on his Mirage onto Pakistani Army structures on top of Tiger Hill. Moments later, the target was demolished, the first successful use of a laser guided munition by the Indian Air Force in combat.