French Mirage 2000 variants


Of all the countries in today's Western Europe, France is one of the few that still maintains an independent industry producing modern combat aircraft. Although currently reaching the end of it's production life, the Mirage 2000 is still being built for some export customers. The Mirage 2000 nowadays forms the backbone of the French Air Force, Armée de l' Air.

Since entering service in 1984 as a single-seat air defence fighter, the Mirage 2000 has taken on the roles of nuclear attack platform and all weather ground attacker. The single seat multi role model sold well in the export market, being introduced into the Air Forces of Egypt, Greece, India, Peru, Qatar, the Republic of China and the United Arab Emirates.  

Below a series of pictures and brief descriptions of Mirage 2000 models in French service.


All pictures (c) Hans Rolink

Mirage 2000B/C



The first production version for the Armée de l' Air was the Mirage 2000C, intended as an air defender. The 2000C (C=Chasse, fighter) was produced in two distinct series, subdivided in five lots differing from each other in several minor and major respects.

The initial production standards as delivered to EC 2 at Dijon replacing Mirage IIIE were the Mirage 2000C-S1 till S3. These had rather basic equipment in the shape of Thomson-CSF RDM (Radar Doppler Multifunction) radars and (S3 only) MATRA Super 530F radar guided air-to-air missiles. They carry the serials 1 through 37 inclusive. 

Illustrated is 18/5-OF, originally completed to S2 standard. It is now on the charge of Escadron de Chasse 2/5 (EC 2/5) "Ile de France" at Orange. 





Rheine-Hopsten, 8 September 2001.


The remaining French Mirage 2000C's were built to S4 and S5 standards. These, serialled 38 through 124 inclusive, have Thomson-CSF RDI (Radar Doppler à Impulsion) radars and improved MATRA Super 530D radar guided missiles. Because of their increased air-to air capabilities, they are often referred to as Mirage 2000RDI. Deleveries were made to EC 12 at Cambrai and EC 5 at Orange, in both cases replacing Mirage F.1C's. 81/12-YI  belongs to the famous EC 1/12 "Cambresis" tiger squadron of the French Air Force at Cambrai.




Kleine Brogel, 18 June 2001.

No modern fighter fleet would be complete without a two-seater for training. For instruction purposes, Dassault supplied the Mirage 2000B (B=Biplace, two-seater) to the Armée de l' Air. A total of 30 (501 till 530) were received, mostly fitted out with RDM radars. To the left, 511/2-FH bears the "Fouche de Mort" insignia of EC 2/2 "Côte d' Or" at Dijon. This squadron was the type's OCU untill 1998 when this function passed to EC 2/5.

Brustem, 7 September 1996

Kleine Brogel, 9 September 1995

Aircraft 524/330-AZ was with EC 5/330 "Côte d' Argent" at the time this picture was taken. EC 5/330 prepares the service introduction of new fighter types in the French Air Force. Based at Mont de Marsan, the squadron also is a member of the NATO Tiger Association and thus painted up this jet accordingly.



Mirage 2000-5

Mid-life updates are the norm nowadays, rather than procuring new equipment. The Armée de l' Air is no exception. In order to make the proposition more attractive to potential export customers, the Armée de l' Air was persuaded to convert 34 Mirage 2000C-S4 and three Mirage 2000C-S5 jets (from the RDI group) to a considerably improved Mirage 2000-5F standard. Central to the conversion is the Thomson-CSF RDY (Radar Doppler Multicible, muli-target Doppler radar) set. RDY allows the carriage of MICA (Missile de Interception, de Combat et de Autoprotection), the French equivalent to the active radar guided AIM-120 AMRAAM. 



Kleine Brogel, 18 July 2002.


The 2000-5 project triggered a swapping around of Mirage 2000's, with the RDM group now going to Orange's EC5. This base's RDI jets were taken in for conversion and redeliverd from 1998 to EC 2 at Dijon. The Mirage 2000-5F is easily recognisable through the lack of a nose pitot probe. Aircraft 53/2-FA belongs to EC 2/2 "Côte d' Or" at Dijon.


Mirage 2000N

Since the mid-sixties, the airborne component of France's nuclear deterrent force had been the Mirage IV.  When a replacement was needed, the Mirage 2000B two-seater was taken as a basis to develop the Mirage 2000N (N=nucleaire). The Mirage 2000N was to be armed with the nuclear-tipped ASMP (Air-Sol Moyenne Portée) air-to-surface missile. The Mirage 2000N was fitted with a Thomson-CFS Antelope 5 radar allowing automatic terrain following flight. Initial deliveries were of the Mirage 2000N-K1 variety for nuclear work only.
Kleine Brogel, 18 July 2002.

Leeuwarden, 18 October 2001.

Since the early nineties, the 2000N fleet also does some conventional air-to-ground work. Conventionally capable aircraft are known as Mirage 2000N-K2. Since 1998, remaining 2000N-K1's were brought to this standard.Both 344/4-AJ (left) and 353/4-BD (right) from respectively EC 1/4 "Dauphiné" and EC 2/4 "Lafayette" are based at Luxeuil. A third squadron, EC 3/4 "Limousin" is based at Istres. A total of 75 was completed for the Armée de l' Air.


Mirage 2000D

During the Gulf War of 1991 the French Air Force had carried out ground attacks using single seated Mirage F.1CR and Jaguar A aircraft. It was proved that the high workload of such missions would really require a second crewmember. Even before the Gulf War, development of a two-seat conventional version of the Mirage 2000N had started. Originally known as Mirage 2000N' (N prime), the type was renamed Mirage 2000D (D=diversifé, multirole) in 1990.

Beauvechain, 3 September 1999.

Jever, 21 June 1997.

Today's Mirage 2000D, which entered sevice in it's initial Mirage 2000D-R1 form in 1993 to replace Mirage IIIE's, can be regarded as the French equivalent of the F-15E and the Tornado GR.4, i.e. a well-equipped two seat ground attacker armed with precision guided munitions. Production of the 86 aircraft has been divided over two lots, Mirage 2000D-R1 and Mirage 2000D-R2. The latter can also carry the conventional APACHE stand-off missile. Distinguishing between the Mirage 2000N and Mirage 2000D is easy. The "D" has a green nose radome housing an Antelope 53C radar and has no pitot tube. 

Aircraft 617/3-XA (left) and 609/3-XD (right) are from EC 3/3 "Ardennes", based at Nancy. Both carry the PDLCT (Pod de Designation Laser avec une Camera Thermique) infrared camera equipped laser designation pod. The aircraft to the left, 612/330-AX is from EC 5/330 "Côte d' Argent" at Mont de Marsan.




Kleine Brogel, 9 September 1995.