Mirage 2000 Upgrade


Mirage 2000 Upgrade

An Indian air force M-2000 Mirage taxis into position following a Cope India '04 sortie on Feb.18, 2004
An Indian air force M-2000 Mirage taxis into position following a Cope India '04 sortie on Feb.18. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Keith Brown)


India and France in July 2011 entered into a $2.4 billion contract to upgrade IAF's Mirage 2000 fleet. The contract had been under negotiation since 2007.

India has signed separate contracts with M/s Thales, France and M/s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for the upgrade. The contract with M/s Thales, France is valued at Euro 1470 million, and with  HAL at Rs 2020 crores. [PIB]

Scope of the Upgrade

The contract upgrade of the IAF aircraft to Mirage 2000-5 standards and an extension of their life by another 20 years. 

The entire airframe will be stripped to extend its life and to re-wire and re-equip the aircraft with new avionics, mission computers, glass cockpits, helmet-mounted display and electronic warfare suites to support a contemporary weapon suit.

The aircraft will be fitted with the Thales RDY2 multimode radar and the MPDU mission computer (fitted on the Rafale), as well as new navigation and electronic countermeasures. 

At a Glance

 No of aircraft to be upgraded 51
 Upgrade Requirement Strip down of the entire airframe to extend its life by another 20 years, and to re-wire and re-equip the aircraft with new avionics, mission computers, glass cockpits, helmet-mounted displays, electronic warfare suites to support a contemporary weapon suit. 
 Projected Cost     Rs 11,000 crore ($2.4 billion)

Terms of the Contract

Under the contract, Dassault will upgrade two IAF Mirages in France within 44 months. Next, Dassault and HAL will jointly upgrade another two Mirages in Bengaluru over the next 14 months. HAL will then upgrade the rest.

Contract Progress

As on January 4, 2012, two aircraft were in France for upgrades. [via Hindu]

Mica Missile

MICA air-to-air missiles on display at Aero India 2011
MICA air-to-air missiles on display at Aero India 2011. Photo Copyright Vijainder K Thakur
The upgraded Mirage-2000 aircraft will be equipped with fire-and-forget MICA missiles with a maximum operating range of 60 km (37 mi.)..

A contract for the procurement of 450 - 500 MICA missiles is being progressed. Infrared and Active radar guided versions of the missiles would be procured.

The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) cleared the contract for the missiles with French firm MBDA for €950 million on Wednesday, January 4, 2012. [via Hindu].

Contract History

On November 18, 2011, Air Chief Browne told the press that the first two aircraft will fly out to France next week.

GOI and the French firms Dassault and Thales signed the upgrade deal on July 29, 2011.

The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh cleared the $2.4 billion deal on July 13, 2011 after nearly five years of negotiations.

The total value of the deal could be $4 billion, with $1 billion for new weapons and another $500 million for creating upgrade facilities at Bangalore-based Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).

Under the deal, the French firms will help in upgarding the avionics, navigation systems, mission computers, electronic warfare systems and radars bringing the aircraft to the Mirage-2000-5 standards.

India will first send two Mirage 2000s to France for upgrades; the rest of the Mirage fleet will be upgraded at Hindustan Aeronautics Limited facilities in New Delhi.

The deal will mandate an offset investment of over $900 million (30% of the deal value) in the Indian defense, civilian aerospace or homeland security sectors by French defense companies. The offset clause is applicable to foreign vendors bagging deals over Rs 300 crore.

The protracted negotiations, involving French companies Dassault Aviation (aircraft manufacturer) and Thales (weapons systems integrator), initially remained mired over the Rs 13,500 crore ($2.9 billion) price sought by the French companies.

In July, 2009, before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh left for Paris on a state visit, TOI reported that the two sides had arrived at a price settlement.

‘‘The two sides have now arrived at a reasonable price around Rs 10,000 crore. The first four to six Mirages will be upgraded in France, with the rest 50 or so being upgraded in India by Hindustan Aeronautics under transfer of technology,’’ said the source.

Mirage 2000 in IAF

The IAF initially purchased 40 Mirages in the mid-1980s and later followed up with 20 more. 

The current IAF inventory of the aircraft is 51 with the aircraft equipping 1 (Tigers) and 7 (Battle Axes) sqns, both based in Gawalior.

The Mirage 2000 is considered the most potent combat proven aircraft in the IAF inventory after it gave an excellent account of itself during the 1999 Kargil conflict, with its precision bombing from high altitudes using laser guided bombs.

The Su-30MKI is probably more potent than the Mirage 2000 but has yet to be fielded in combat.

Before the MMRCA project crystallized, the IAF, impressed by its existing Mirage 2000 fleet, was keen to order Mirage-2000-Vs to replace its ageing MiG fleet.

Breakdown in Negotiations

In October 2009, Business Standard reported a breakdown in negotiations with Dassault Aviation. Senior IAF sources told the magazine that the Ministry of Defense (MoD)  found the Rs 196 crore ($41 million) upgrade price per aircraft exorbitant, considering that the airframe and engines would not be changed, but Dassault wouldn't go any lower.

In comparison, the projected per aircraft price tag of MMRCA was Rs 400 crore ($87 million), including transfer of technology. 

MoD believes it will make more sense for the IAF to continue with its existing M2000 fleet and procure an additional two squadrons of MMRCA using the Rs 10,000 crore ($2.1 billion) it would otherwise spend on M2000 upgrade.

The IAF's enthusiasm for M2000 upgrade has waned as Dassault has steadily hiked the price of spares in what the service considers as arm twisting.

Israeli Offer

Israel reportedly offered to upgrade the Mirage-2000 fleet for half the price being quoted by Dassault. The MoD, however, didn't accept that offer.

During his visit to India in December 2009, Israeli defense services chief, General Gabi Ashkenazi, was reported to have presented Israel's Mirage 2000 upgrade proposal to the top brass, including the chief of air staff, Air Chief Marshal Pradeep Vasant Naik.

General Ashkenazi's visit was the first ever by an Israeli defense services chief.


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