Mirage 2000 Fighters To Be Sent To Ukraine From France

French President Emmanuel Macron has disclosed plans to transfer Mirage 2000-5 fighters to Ukraine. This follows the recent and unexpected announcement that the Ukrainian Air Force will be getting a pair of Saab 340 airborne early warning and control aircraft from Sweden. It also comes amid an ongoing multi-national effort to supply Ukraine with U.S.-made F-16 Viper fighters.

“Tomorrow we will launch a new cooperation and announce the transfer of Mirage 2000-5 fighter jets to Ukraine made by French manufacturer Dassault and train their Ukrainian pilots in France,” Macron said during a televised interview today, according to France 24. The French president was speaking following commemorations to mark the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy during World War II.

“President Macron has… announced the launch of a new cooperation program with Ukraine, which includes the training of 4,500 Ukrainian soldiers, the training of pilots, and the transfer of Mirage 2000 fighter jets,” the French Embassy in Washington, D.C., confirmed to The War Zone and others in a statement. “Peace cannot equate to Ukraine’s capitulation.”

A pair of French Mirage 2000-5Fs. Alan Wilson via Wikimedia

The French Air Force currently operates close to 30 Mirage 2000-5Fs, which first entered service in the early 2000s. France’s -5F jets were converted from older Mirage 2000 variants and they reportedly differ from export -5 versions in certain ways, including in the retention of older French defensive countermeasures systems.

The French Mirage 2000-5Fs do feature the same RDY radars as other -5 versions. The RDY is a mechanically-scanned pulse-doppler type with look-down/shoot-down functionality. The RDY offers important additional capabilities over RDI and RDM radars used on earlier versions of the Mirage 2000, including the ability to track more targets simultaneously and improved air-to-ground functionality. All of this could be particularly valuable for Ukraine, which faces continual threats from barrages of low-flying Russian cruise missiles and kamikaze drones.

French Mirage 2000-5Fs for Ukraine might also come along with valuable new munitions, including versions of the MICA beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile. The -5F variant is optimized for air-to-air use, but could also be readily made capable of employing air-to-ground munitions that France has already been sending to Ukraine, such as the stealthy SCALP-EG cruise missile and the Hammer rocket-assisted precision-guided bomb.

At the same time, France’s Mirage 2000-5Fs are currently in frontline service, including standing alert to defend the country’s domestic airspace. The expectation has been that these fighters would remain in service through the late 2020s or even into the early 2030s. The War Zone has previously posited that any Mirage 2000 transfer from France would likely involve older examples, like the 2000C versions the country retired in 2022.

France might have additional Mirage 2000-5Fs in storage that it could send to Ukraine. This also raises a question about whether French authorities might source Mirage 2000-5s from other countries for transfer to Ukraine. Just earlier this year, Greece announced the possibility of selling off its Mirage 2000-5s as part of broader efforts to rationalize the country’s fighter fleets. There have been discussions over the years about whether Taiwan might be moving to retire some or all of its Mirage 2000-5 fleet. The War Zone has reached out for additional information about France’s current Mirage 2000-5 transfer plans.

A quartet of Hellenic (Greek) Air Force Mirage 2000-5s over the airbase of Tanagra, north of Athens, in November 2007, during a commissioning ceremony for the jets. ARIS MESSINIS/AFP via Getty Images

There have been indications as far back as January 2023 that France was considering sending Mirage 2000 fighters to Ukraine. At the same time, it is worth noting that French authorities denied reports last year that they were looking into buying back Mirage 2000-9 jets from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for re-transfer to Ukraine. They also denied separate reports that a cadre of Ukrainian pilots were already being trained to fly Mirage 2000s ahead of an expected transfer.

Though now officially confirmed, questions do remain about France’s plan to give Mirage 2000-5s to Ukraine, including what the timetable looks like for that transfer. In addition to training Ukrainian pilots to fly the jets, Ukraine will need maintainers and other personnel on the ground, as well as new logistics chains, to make sure it can operate and sustain the jets.

The multi-national plan to supply Ukraine with U.S.-made F-16s has faced many of the same hurdles and Ukrainian authorities have increasingly expressed frustration at the speed with which that effort is progressing. Delays in pilot training have reportedly been slowing the process of getting the Vipers to Ukraine’s Air Force. France has been supporting the overall coalition effort to get Ukraine F-16s by providing lead-in training for Ukrainian pilots using Alpha Jet aircraft.

The French government’s announcement today about the Mirage 2000-5s also means that Ukraine is now set to get a second type of Western fighter. Whether or not this might open the door to other countries providing combat jets remains to be seen. Sweden has reportedly considered transferring Gripens to the Ukrainian Air Force. The possibility of the United Kingdom sending Eurofighters also came up in the past, before it emerged that British authorities would be supporting the F-16 pilot training program.

Concerns and criticisms about the flow of Western military assistance, including both materiel deliveries and training programs, go beyond plans to get Ukraine newer combat jets. New Russian offensives, especially in Ukraine’s northern Kharkiv region, have only exacerbated tensions between the government in Kyiv and its foreign benefactors.

“There is a challenge in capacity,” Macron also said today, per France 24, in regard to the newly announced plans to also step up training of Ukrainian ground forces. “That is why the Ukrainian president and his minister of defense asked all the allies – 48 hours ago in an official letter – saying ‘we need you to train us quicker and that you do this on our soil'”

Macron, in general, has become notably more aggressive in his support for Ukraine in recent months. Last month, he notably declined to rule out the possibility of sending French troops to Ukraine proper in the future, comments that looked to have subsequently prompted snap Russian nuclear drills.

Whatever the case, it is now official that France plans to send Mirage 2000-5s to help bolster Ukraine’s air combat capabilities.

Howard Altman contributed to this story.

Contact the author: joe@twz.com