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French Air Force receives first upgraded Mirage M2000D fighter

French Air Force Mirage M2000D
Photo: French Air Force

The first of the 55 Mirage single-engine jet fighters the French Air Force is keeping has arrived at the Mont-de-Marsan air base after its mid-life overhaul.

The aircraft was refurbished by the original manufacturer Dassault Aviation, who worked with the French Air Force’s maintenance organization (Atelier Industriel de l’Aéronautique (AIA) de Clermont – Ferrand) on the project.

As the first of 55 refurbished Mirage 2000Ds, aircraft no. 639 will now undergo a year-long phase of tests that will evaluate the various upgrades before the aircraft is cleared for operations sometime in 2022.

France is keeping 55 of the fighters in service under the 2019-2025 Military Programming Law to keep the number of aircraft in its combat fleet at 225 airframes. The newer twin-engine Dassault Rafale jets remain the mainstay of the fleet.

The upgraded M2000Ds are receiving MBDA’s Mica IR air-to-air missiles and AASM precision-guided bombs, in addition to the Thales BAT-120 GL laser-guided missiles. Upgrades to avionics, new targeting pods and datalinks will allow the Mirage fighters to remain in service beyond 2030. The first aircraft of the type entered service in 1995.

Dassault is delivering the mid-life upgrade project under a contract awarded by the French defense procurement agency in 2016. The first test aircraft was delivered in 2017, while serial work on the upgrades started in 2019.

Aircraft no. 639 arriving at the Mont-de-Marsan air base on January 7, 2021. Photo: French Air Force