“All Rafale by 2030”: France to bid adieu to the Mirage 2000?

During his annual wishes to the French armed forces on January 20, 2022, French President Emmanuel Macron announced that the next Military Planning Law for 2024-2030 would see the fighter fleet of the French Air and Space Force transition to “all Rafale,” thus hinting that the Mirage 2000 would be phased out.

“Facing stronger adversaries, we will have to act stronger too, to achieve decisive military effects quickly,” Macron declared. “This implies hardening our tool. We will thus switch to ‘all Rafale’ and maintain this exceptional aircraft at the best level in the world.”

The first French 4th generation fighter jet

The Mirage 2000 is a fighter jet developed by Dassault Aviation in the 1970s. At the beginning of 2022, the air force still reported 106 Mirage 2000 fighters in operations. 

On June 23, 2022, France bid farewell to the Dassault Mirage 2000C fighter jet, leaving only 66 Mirage 2000D ground attack variant aircraft and 26 Mirage 2000-5 interceptors.

But 55 Mirage 2000D fighters are currently undergoing a modernization program, with the first aircraft delivered in 2021 and deliveries spread out until 2025. The program’s purpose was to update the Mirage 2000D avionics and allow the employment of the MICA anti-air missiles instead of the current MAGIC.

Hence the question of parliament member Frank Giletti to defense minister Sébastien Lecornu: “If the goal is to go ‘all Rafale,’ why concentrate resources and time and part of the budget on the renovation of 55 Mirage 2000s?”

“It is the Mirage 2000[-5] that we will gradually withdraw from circulation with a pivot towards the Rafale,” Lecornu answered. “And so, everything that is confirmed on the Mirage 2000D is still relevant.”

Thus, the transition to Rafales will only affect the last two squadrons still operating the air superiority variant of the aircraft, the Mirage 2000-5. These are namely the 1/2 Cigognes [Storks – ed. note] fighter squadron, based in Luxeuil, France, and the 3/11 Corse [Corsica – ed. note] fighter squadron, based in Djibouti.

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