The Indian Air Force jets that dropped the 1,000 kg bombs on terrorist camps across the LoC early this morning were the Mirage 2000 aircraft. This multirole combat fighter manufactured by Dassault Aviation of France - the makers of the much talked about Rafale jets, too - had proven to be a game changer during the Kargil War. The IAF calls it the Vajra, or thunderbolt, for its proven effectiveness as a precision bomber in addition to its interceptor capabilities.
Here's all you to know about Mirage 2000:The single-engine aircraft, according to Dassault, boasts a maximum speed of over Mach 2.2 - 2495 km per hour or twice the speed of sound - and a maximum climbing speed of 60,000 feet per minute. It reportedly boasts nine hardpoints for weapons carriage and a combat range of 1850 km. It is also tasked with a nuclear weapon delivery role.
The Mirage 2000 has come a long way since then. In July 2011, India approved a $3 billion upgrade to IAF's fleet of 51 such aircraft, bringing them to the Mirage-2000-5 standards. The first of two upgraded Mirages were handed over to the IAF in 2015. With this upgrade, the Mirage 2000, which entered service with the IAF way back in 1985, is good to go for another 30 years.
The 'new' Mirage 2000, redesignated the Mirage 2000 I, was much advanced compared to the original jet thanks to a host of new systems onboard. Like the new Thales RDY 2 radar, which allows for very long-range engagement of targets in the air, automatic tracking of targets, mapping of targets on the ground using Doppler beam-sharpening techniques, and the ability to track and engage targets which are moving on the ground. The other upgrades included a night vision goggle-compatible glass cockpit, advanced Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) system and fully-integrated electronic warfare suite.
Most importantly, it packed a host of new weapons, including the MICA air-to-air missile a state-of-the-art missile that is capable of engaging targets at beyond visual ranges and also at close ranges. Think of it as one missile for two jobs.
The remaining Mirage 2000s were to be upgraded with extensive French technical assistance by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) but progress has been pretty slow. The IAF reportedly has 7 such upgraded Mirage 2000s currently.
With PTI inputs