– By Subodh Sharma

Recently Indians started debating if they should acquire the legacy Taiwanese Mirage 2000-5 to make up for the dwindling squadron strength of the Indian air force. In the early 90s assessing the threat posed by the Su-27 of mainland China’s, which were acquired from Russia, the Republic of China (Taiwan) decided to acquire an equally or more capable fighter jet. In the quest, they entered talks with the United States of America and France about the probable purchase of cutting-edge new fighters. The Republic of China Air Force (RoCAF) was the foremost customer for the Mirage 2000-5 and they acquired 48 single-seat Mirage 2000-5EIs and 12 Mirage 2000-5DI trainers. As per the reports, the Taiwanese Mirage 2000s were delivered from May 1997 to November 1998, and are based at Hsinchu AB.

Current inventory of Taiwan

Name of the fighter jetOriginTotal number
AIDC F-CK-1Taiwan103
F16 Fighting FalconUnited States115 (Upgraded) /66 on order
Dassault Mirage 2000France48 (12 Trainers)
Inventory of Air Force (Taiwan)

Looking at this inventory it is obvious that maintaining two different types of the fighter jets in the same category isn’t economically and logistically a good idea. Thus, Republic of China Air Force want to sell it current fleet of Mirage 2000 and acquire more F16 fighting falcon of the latest blocks.

Credit : www.Alphadefense.in

Contrary, be it the Balakot or Kargil, the Mirage 2000 has been a phenomenal fighter jet for the Indian Air Force. The aircraft that is a derivative of Mirage V which first flew in the year 1967 is today a power-packed machine of the fourth generation. The incremental changes on the aircraft have made it a far more superior and deadly machine then what it was when the Indian Air Force acquired it. In 1980, the Indian Air Force (IAF) intercepted that Pakistan had efficaciously convinced the US for the acquisition of deadly F-16A/B aircraft, the conveyance of which was begun in 1982. The IAF immediately persuaded the Indian government in late 1980, which is usually slow in the acquisition process to acquire an equally effective aircraft, as its fleet of soviet origin MiG-21s and MiG-23s were no match for the F-16 in any aspect. Though this machine made its first flight almost 42 years ago, yet the bird today can make any fighter jet run for its money.

This bird is still the first choice of the Indian Air Force at least for the attack and air to ground missions. The situation of the Indian air force (IAF) and the Republic of China Air Force (RoCAF) makes a perfect case of a win-win, while the RoCAF wants to get rid of their Mirages, IAF on the other hand require more fighter jets in a shorter span of time. The Mirage 2000 remains the mainstay of the Indian air force, thus it makes a perfect sense for the Indian air force to acquire these. The 48 Mirage 2000-5 and 12 trainers of Taiwan can help the Indian air force to get 3 squadrons worth fighter jet in no time but is that so straight forward? let’s understand.

Kinematics are no longer important?

Another debate in India that has stirred the defense reporting corridor is “Kinematics or standoff range weapon delivery”. The concept of the fifth-generation fighter jet is to give-up some degree of kinematics i.e. the ability to perform the intense maneuvers and adopt the standoff range weapon delivery without risking the machine and pilot. The 4.5 Generation or 4++ generation fighter jets sacrifice the stealth for the kinematics. The air forces around the globe understand that they require a perfect blend of 4++ and 5 generations fighter jet to perfectly balance the cost and weapon delivery.

On average a fighter jet carries 6 air to air missiles and as per a study carried out by airpower Australia “if we suppose an ordinary per missile kill likelihood of 50 percent, then a four-round salvo will be needed to ensure 95 kill probability. The scenario complicates further if the total number of the targets in the air are more than one which is the highly likely case in real combat. The BVR isn’t 100% foolproof and therefore the production of within visual range missiles is still on. In fact, the thrust to improve the within visual range missile is more than before, some of the recent developments are IRIS-T, V3E A-Darter, and Python 5

In real combat thus only depending on the BVR capabilities will lead to the situation that the F4 phantom had during Vietnam war without autocannon, the autocannon was retrofitted in the F4 phantom during Vietnam war. In the context of India, depending completely on the BVR and Standoff ranges isn’t possible because of the following 2 reasons:

  1. Terrain
  2. Proximity

The terrain of the Indian border does not allow very long-range standoff weapons especially in the air to ground mode, thus airplanes like Mirage 2000 are necessity beyond 2030.

The proximity of the adversary airbases do not allow the Indian air force to depend completely on the BVR. One such example is the distance between the Skardu airbase and Kargil. An Indian air force fighter jet performing combat air patrol in Kargil and a Pakistani airforce fighter jet taking off from Skardu are already within shoot downrange of each other and based on the air space under control the fighter jets when identified as “red” are already within visual ranges.

Pic : Google earth

China vs Taiwan angle

The ongoing tensions at the border in eastern Ladakh has reignited the thought that India should strategically align with Taiwan the way china is with Pakistan. The government of Indian has always been shy of alignment with Taiwan, fearing that could irk Beijing. Acquiring the ex-Taiwan air force fighter jet will not go easy on china and if India wants to send a message to china then they could use this as a warning shot.

Mirage 2000 Upgrade

Looking at the depleting squadron strength, the Indian airforce decided to upgrade its fleet of Mirage 2000. The upgrade package includes an altogether new night vision goggle-compatible full glass cockpit, advanced and state of the art navigational systems, new high-tech Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) system, cutting edge multi-mode multi-layered radar, a fully integrated new electronic warfare suite.

  • The Super R-530D and Magic II were replaced with MICA (both IR and BVR)
  • Thales RDY 2 radar which allows automatic target tracking and longer-range engagement.
  • Indian Mission computer

Tejas MK1A vs Mirage 2000

The indigenous light combat aircraft of India Tejas will be upgraded to the Tejas Mk1A standards. The aircraft will carry an active electronically scanned array radar, unified electronic warfare suite, longer-range air to air missile with reduced weight. The Indian airforce will get 83 of these new generation fighter jet which will be the most advanced fighter jet of IAF inventory excluding the Dassault Rafale.

The LCA Tejas Mk1A will be technologically more advance then Mirage 2000 but they are of two different categories. The Tejas MK1A was conceived as a stopgap measure to sustain the production rate and at the same time address the technological need. The Mirage 2000 with the SNECMA M53-P2 can produce 95.1 KN and carry 6.3-tonne worth weapon loads on the 9 hardpoints. The current LCA Tejas can carry more than 5 Tonnes of fuel and weapons on 8 hardpoints. The Tejas MK1A will undergo weight reduction and a result of the exercise it could carry approximately 800 KG more than Tejas Mk1. The aircraft will also get a Dual-Rack Pylons that will effectively increase the number of hardpoints to 10. The Tejas Mk1A will be technologically advanced than Mirage 2000 and payload wise close to it in performance. Thus, Tejas Mk1A can undertake most of the missions of Mirage 2000 if not all.

Now vs 2026

The Tejas Mk1A will start its production in 2023 and will complete the production only by 2027 if the production rate is 20 aircraft per year.

YearNumber of Aircraft
202420
202540
202660
202780
2028*83

On the other hand, the Mirage 2000 of Taiwan can be acquired right away and aircraft worth 3 squadrons can be deployed in active duty after upgrade within a year. However, the Mirage 2000 of the Indian airforce is set to be retired in 2030 and thus acquiring these aircraft and upgrading them to Mirage 2000 upgrade standard for service lesser than 9 years does not make a true economic sense.

Economics of maintaining the legacy fighter jet

The upgrade of Mirage 2000 wasn’t a pocket friendly and it coasted the Indian airforce a bomb. As per the reply of then-defense minister A K Antony, the cost of the upgrade of one aircraft was 167 crore (INR), however, applying the 3.5% escalation per annum the final unit cost 195 crores (INR) in 2011. Considering other components in the package including the technology transfer the cost of the aircraft was 344 crores (INR).

The cost of Tejas MK1A was negotiated rigorously by the Indian airforce, as per the 83 Tejas Mk1A estimate one jet will cost the Indian airforce INR 250-275 crore compared to the earlier estimate of INR 463 crore. Thus, an upgraded Mirage 2000’s upgrade alone will cost the Indian airforce more than a brand new Tejas MK1A. In addition to that Taiwan will not gift the Mirage 2000 to the Indian airforce. However, the upgrade will not be as extensive as witnessed by the Indian airforce Mirage 2000, these jets are already at Mirage 2000-5 standards. Thus, it will be interesting to see what will be the pricing of the final jet. If procured…..

By Alpha Defense

Alpha Defense initially a solo venture but now a defense group by people from various demographics of India covering defense news and updates. We believe in unbiased analysis of every subject in hand. Our mission is to provide simplfiied defense information to the public.

10 thoughts on “Should India acquire Ex Taiwan mirage 2000 or wait for Tejas MK2/MK1A?”
  1. Concerning to the depleting strength of the Indian air Force , we should aquire more than 1 squdren of mirrage 2000 …

  2. I think it is very logical to go for these jets and I also want to believe that Indian officials would have already started discussion with Taiwan but the question still remains, will they really be able to crack this deal? If I remember it correctly then, I think you have mentioned that IAF had already been in discussion with France and UAE but no deal was signed because of cost differences. No matter how one look at it, I think this is a very good opportunity for India. We must start cost negotiations right now.

  3. Bad suggestions.. india should increase the no of rafales to be procured and simultaneous get indigenous Tejas upgraded ..

  4. A bird in hand is better than 2 in bushes. Specially if u are ina war mode. Anyways nothing is more important than national security and the lives of civilians. So just get the mirage.

  5. No we should not procure this mirages.
    1. For filling up the gaps in IAF reducing sq. We r already procuring mig29 and su30s from Russia.
    2. With the cost of this mirages we may get 1 more sq of 4.5 generation Rafael. This time the cost would be less as we have already paid India specific enhancement.

  6. India must aquire two squadron of Mirage 2000 from Taiwan.. India is confronting with china and pakistan on two fronts..IAF have qualitative edge over both countries’ air force but IAF don’t have sufficient jets for two front war..Tajas are being with slow rate..so IAF must go for deal of two squadron of Mirage-2000 from Taiwan..These aircrafts are in good condition and after upgrade can be deployed on front within very short time period…IAF should upgrade these Mirages with the help of Israel..this will be cost effective..Jai Hind.

  7. Rafel F4 pr vedio aur artical likho sir.. India ko jo rafel mile h kya wo f4 version h ya uske simmeler hai.. Pls ans.. M har vedio k comment box m khta hu rafel F4 pr vedio bnao pr aaj tak koi rply bhi nhi kiya aapne..

  8. We should go for these 60 jets, mildly upgrade them, and arrest our falling squadron strength. Considering MiG-21s are doing to be retired within the next 3-4 years, this would be a good purchase.

  9. Indian should wait for Tejas Mk2.
    It will help us to sustain our indigenous fighter jet programs. 😊👍

  10. India should buy these used Mirage 2000s buy should not pay any more than $20 million per jet. These are used and probably damaged by the salty island air. Thus, there will be some unforeseen repairs. Taiwanese are against the communist China but they are equally cut-throat people. I will not trust them either.

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