Mirage 2000 is IAF’s Proven War Horse, From Kargil to IAF Strike

Mirage 2000 still remains the go-to fighter jet for the Indian Air Force, as was proven by the IAF strike in Balakot

3 min read

With the air strikes on “the biggest JeM terror camp in Balakot,” by the Indian Air Force on Tuesday, 26 February, in which 12 Mirage 2000 Indian Fighter jets reportedly dropped 1,000 kg bombs destroying terror camps across the LoC on the Pakistani side, the fighter aircraft has once again proven that it is the main aerial battle horse of the IAF.

The single-engine, delta-wing, fourth-generation Mirage-2000 multi-role fighter aircraft made their mark with precision air strikes on Tiger Hill and other targets during the Kargil conflict in 1999.

However, the 12 Mirage 2000 aircraft, which took off from the Ambala air force base in the early hours of Tuesday, were much more sophisticated than the Mirage 2000 variant which operated during the Kargil conflict.

According to experts, the Mirage 2000's precision, modern avionics and the ability to carry modern warheads make this French aircraft still a top choice for the IAF.


A Proven Warhorse

The Mirage 2000 came to the Indian Air Force after Pakistan signed a deal to purchase F-16 fighter jets from the US. In 1982, India placed the first order to buy the Mirages from Dassault, France.

The first time the Mirage 2000s were deployed in combat was during the Kargil conflict. Between June-July 1999, 514 sorties were flown by two squadrons of Mirage 2000s. The two fighter units successfully completed 240 strike missions, dropping more than 55,000 kg of ordnance on Point 5140, Tololing, Tiger Hill and in Batalik sector.

Interestingly, before the Kargil conflict, the IAF had very limited numbers of laser-guided bombs. But in a perfect example of Indian adaptability, IAF’s technical teams attached crude, unguided bombs on Israeli laser targeting pods, which were hastily procured before the war, converting them to guided ordnance.

How Are the New Mirage Aircraft Different?

Since the Kargil war, the Mirage 2000s have undergone major upgrades. The new version of the aircraft is now equipped with Helmet Mounted Sighting and Mounting (HMSM), which brings a radar and other targeting data on the helmet.

The other upgrades on the Mirage 2000 included the installation of new mission computers, pulse doppler radars, advanced navigation and electronic warfare systems, advanced communication systems and identification systems, two lateral displays, advanced head-down display systems and glass cockpits.


SPICE Precision Weapon Struck The Targets?

Spice missile 
Spice missile 
Photo: Wikimedia 

According reports, the IAF’s Mirage 2000s fired Israeli made SPICE smart bombs at the JeM targets. SPICE stands for Smart, Precise Impact, Cost-Effective. This is an Israeli-developed guidance kit, which converts unguided bombs into precision guided bombs using electro-optical sensors and GPS.

What makes this weapon system potent is its ability to identify the target using photographs and switch to GPS/INS based targeting if required. The pilot can either feed a photograph of the target or the geographical location of it, before launching the missile

Once the missile is released from the aircraft, a seeker on the missile searches for the target using the photograph in its memory. If this doesn’t work due to obstruction, the missile switches to GPS and targets the location based on the geo location.

There are three variants of the missile. Spice 1000, which can carry 450 kg, Spice 2000, which can carry a pay load of 900 kg and Spice 250, which is a 113 kg glide bomb.

High Success Rate

According to a retried fighter pilot, currently operating with a public sector undertaking, the missions success rate of Mirage 2000 is one of the reasons it was chosen by the IAF to carry out the mission in Balakot. He said,

“If you look at the operation success rate during Kargil, which is the number of how many of the missions undertaken by the aircraft were successful, it is 100 percent for the Mirage 2000. With the new upgraded avionics and precision ammunition, it is even deadlier.”

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