The aircraft has twin in-built GIAT 30–550 F4 30 mm revolver-type cannons, which have fire rates of 1,200 or 1,800 rounds per minute.
Twelve days after the Pulwama terror attack shook the nation, the Indian Air Force on Tuesday intruded into Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) with a payload of 1000 Kg laser-guided bombs to ambush Jaish-e-Mohammed terror camps.
The operation was carried out in the wee hours around 3.30 am; 12 Mirage-2000 fighter jets were deployed for the same.
While India owns several fighter jets such as the Sukhoi, MiG 29, and Tejas, when it came to carrying out Tuesday’s attack, the forces relied on the Mirage-2000, an aircraft that had helped turn the course of the Kargil war in 1999. At present, there are over 50 Mirage 2000s in the IAF's fleet and most of them are being upgraded with modern capabilities. The three squadrons are based in Gwalior.
Speaking on the jet' outstanding capabilities and what makes it the most suited for such strikes, Ashok Saxena, former Managing Director of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), told News18, "Mirages can fly at very high altitudes and can hit targets with great precision. The most capable of fighter jets available with India are the Sukhoi-30 Mki, but they can be used in case of further escalation. Mirages are best suited for operations requiring high stealth capabilities."'
He added: “They proved their worth in Kargil. This might be the strategic reason to use them (in air strikes).”
Let’s find out why the French-made Dassault Mirage-2000 fighter jets are the chosen one.
The jets were first commissioned in 1985. Considering the capacity and capabilities, the IAF decided to name it Vajra (thunderbolt). The aircraft debuted in 1978 and in 1984 it was inducted in the French Air Force.
India acquired the jets in 1982 as a response to Pakistan’s purchase US-made F-16 fighter jets. The first order placed was for 36 single-seaters and four twin-seater Mirage 2000.
After its resounding success in the 1999 Kargil War, India placed an additional order of 10 more of the Mirage-2000s.
Mirage 2000 is a multirole combat jet made by France’s Dassault Aviation. It has been operational with the French Air Force since 1984 and was acquired by several nations such as Abu Dhabi, Egypt, Greece, India, Peru, Qatar, Taiwan, and the UAE.
The jets are available in two varieties -- single-seater and two-seater. The aircraft is operated with a centre stick and left-hand throttles. It has tricycle-like retractable landing gears, with twin nosewheels. Additionally, there are provisions to attach a brake parachute under the jet’s tail, which can function along with the landing gear's brakes to reduce landing distance.
What makes it worthy is that unlike most other fighter jets Mirage-2000 uses a single shaft engine, which makes it much lighter and simpler than the others.
Moreover, the Mirage 2000 is powered by two versions of the M53 turbofans. The jet can pick up a maximum speed of 2,530 km per hour.
The aircraft is 14.3 m long with a height of 5.2 m and has a wingspan of 9.1 m. The combat jet weighs 21,000 lb.
Payload and armaments
The aircraft has twin in-built GIAT 30–550 F4 30 mm revolver-type cannons, which have fire rates of 1,200 or 1,800 rounds per minute. The combat jet can carry laser-guided bombs, air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles.
It has nine hardpoints for carrying weapon system payloads: five on the fuselage and two on each wing. It has a self-protection suite installed internally as well.
Government sources said Mirage 2000 was chosen for the strike for its capability to hit targets with "pin-point" accuracy.
Additionally, an IAF official pointed out on conditions of anonymity that "they are fitted with Thales RDY 2 radar, which can strike at targets with 100 per cent accuracy".--With PTI inputs