The Indian air force (IAF) has dispatched two of its Mirage 2000 fighter aircraft to France as part of a long-awaited deal to upgrade around 50 of the aging supersonic fighters.
The modernization will cost an estimated $2.4 billion under an agreement signed between India, Thales and Dassault Aviation in July.
The two aircraft were flown from their home base in Gwalior in central India last week to France, where they will be fitted with advanced avionics, electronic warfare suites and weapon systems, an IAF official said Dec. 6. The first two combat aircraft will be upgraded at the French facilities and the remaining at the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited units in India’s southern city of Bengaluru.
Touted as one of the most significant defense deals between India and France, negotiations stretched on for five years as New Delhi, Dassault and Thales had difficulty arriving at a mutually agreeable price for the work. The proposal was finally cleared at a meeting of India’s Cabinet Committee on Security on July 13.
Among the upgrades planned the for Mirage-2000 are a night vision goggle-compatible glass cockpit, advanced navigational systems, an advanced Identification-Friend-or-Foe system, advanced multimode multilayered radar, fully integrated electronic warfare suite and advanced beyond-visual-range capability.
As per the agreement, the French firms also will modernize the navigation systems, mission computers, electronic warfare systems and radars, bringing the aircraft up to the standards of more advanced Mirage-2000-5s. The IAF inducted the Mirage-2000 between 1982 and 1986.