Ukraine Situation Report: France Denies It’s Looking To Buy Back UAE’s Mirage Jets For Kyiv

France says it is not looking to transfer Mirage fighters from the UAE to Ukraine after a report claiming that was the case surfaced.

byHoward Altman|
UAE Mirage 2000 fighter.
(Photo by KARIM SAHIB/AFP via Getty Images)


France is not currently considering a plan to buy back Mirage 2000-9 fighter jets from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and give them to Ukraine.

“No buy-back for shipment to Ukraine is envisaged at this stage,” a French official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the matter, told The War Zone Tuesday.

The official was responding to information in a report by Intelligence Online that part “of Abu Dhabi's Mirage 2000-9 fleet could be used to make a first delivery of French fighter aircraft to Ukraine.”

Intelligence Online reported that since the announcement in December 2021 that UAE was buying 80 Rafales from France, the entourage of Emirati president Mohamed bin Zayhed Al Nahyan "has been letting it be known that he is ready to put his fleet of Mirage 2000-9s on to the second-hand market."

Indonesia's Defense Minister, Prabowo Subianto, "who is trying to strengthen his country's air force and has in recent years become a key figure on international defense markets, has indicated that he is interested, as has the Greek government, which would like 36 aircraft," according to Intelligence Online. "In any case, any change of ownership of the Emirati aircraft will have to be approved by France."

The plan "currently taking shape would see Indonesia buy 40 or so of the Emirati aircraft while the others would be recovered by France or an allied country, like Bulgaria,” Intelligence Online reported. “If the war continues to intensify, those aircraft would be used to equip the Ukrainian armed forces."

“The info is wrong,” the French official said about any French plan for purchasing those jets to give to Ukraine.

Kyiv “is hoping to obtain 40 or so of the more than 70 Dassault-built aircraft owned by the Emirati air force that are currently fit to fly,” Intelligence Online reported. “The operation would further highlight the uneasy support being provided by the Emirates to the Western camp in Ukraine.”

Emirati airmen in front of a Mirage 2000-9 at the Dubai Airshow in November 2015., DASSAULT AVIATION

That option, which Intelligence Online said “looks to set to be adopted,” represents “a new phase in a long process that has been under discussion for several weeks - and could continue for several months more - between the arms brokers operating for Ukraine and authorities in the different countries concerned.”

It remains questionable, however, whether the UAE would want to irk Russia by providing Ukraine with 4th generation fighter aircraft.

It is also unclear whether France, which holds the licenses to the Mirage 2000s, would allow other nations, like the UAE, to sell them to Ukraine. We've reached out to French officials and will update this story with any information provided.

When asked by the French publication Le Figaro today whether France should play a role in Ukraine’s combat aviation capabilities, French Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu said nothing was off the table, but that Ukraine has other needs as well. 

“The Ukrainians are asking for planes to master their skies,” Lecornu said. “France is already responding to this with ground-to-air equipment that provides defense and protection against attacks by drones, missiles or aircraft.”

Lecornu pointed out that France was about to send Ukraine a SAMP/T air defense system.

French Prime Minister “Emmanuel Macron has always said that there is no taboo when it comes to useful and effective aid to Ukraine,” Lecornu told Le Figaro. “But fighter aviation presents maintenance and training challenges that cannot be ignored.”

Still, though the French official on Tuesday discounted the Intelligence Online report, the idea to provide Ukraine with Mirage 2000s retired from the French Air Force has been previously broached.

In January, Thomas Gassilloud, chairman of the National Assembly’s National Defense and Armed Forces Committee, said that the French government could agree to supply Ukraine with the fighter jets that it so badly wants.

“Regarding deliveries [of fighter jets] to Ukraine, we must study requests on a case-by-case basis and leave all the doors open,” Gassilloud said, after talks in London with British counterparts, including U.K. Defense Minister Ben Wallace.

You can read more about those deliberations in our coverage here.

France last year retired its fleet of Mirage 2000-C jets, which you can read more about in our coverage here.

Ukraine did receive the first tranche of four well-used Mig-29 Fulcrums from Slovakia last week.

Slovakia joined Poland in making an official decision to provide Ukraine with Soviet-era Fulcrums, the two NATO members becoming the first countries to commit to delivering tactical jets to Kyiv since Russia launched its full-scale invasion.

In a situation akin to the protracted debate over providing Western tanks to Ukraine, which finally began arriving this week, the provision of Mirage 2000s, if that were to happen somehow, could open up a long-standing logjam on Western combat aircraft to Kyiv.

Of course, convincing U.S. President Joe Biden to provide U.S. jets like F-16s to Ukraine might be a flightline too far.

Ukrainian pilots were recently in the U.S. to assess their ability to fly F-16s. However, last week, Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Col Yuri Ignat shot down claims made in Le Figaro that Ukrainian pilots have trained in France on Mirage 2000 fighter jets, according to the Ukrainian news agency.

Before we dive into the latest updates from Ukraine, The War Zone readers can get caught up on our previous rolling coverage here.

The Latest

On the battlefield, the situation in the war-torn eastern city of Bakhmut is intense but under control, according to Ukrainian Ground Forces Commander Colonel-General Oleksandr Syrskyi.

“Thanks to the heroism and professionalism of our military, skillful and coordinated actions, effective use of maneuver and weapon capabilities, we hold the Bakhmut fortress despite various deadlines and forecasts,” he said Tuesday on his Telegram channel. “Knowing the enemy and oneself opens the way to victory. So we carefully study its vulnerabilities in order to use our powers as effectively as possible.”

During his time on the front, Syrskyi said he and his commanders agreed “on plans that will have a real result not on the map, but on the battlefield.”

A successful strategy, he said, “always consists in the ability to turn any situation to one's advantage. Today, our main task is to wear down the overwhelming forces of the enemy and inflict heavy losses on him. This will make it possible to create the necessary conditions that will facilitate the liberation of Ukrainian land and speed up our victory.”

As you can see from the video below, showing Ukrainian troops setting up a firing position in a Bakhmut cemetery, the fighting has been sustained and vicious.

Despite an increase in complaints, investigations by the Offices of Inspector General (OIG) for the Pentagon, State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) found no substantiation of “significant waste, fraud or abuse” in the $113 billion worth of U.S. government aid in response to Russia’s all-out invasion of Ukraine.

“Following the publication of the joint hotline poster, all three OIGs saw increases in Ukraine-related hotline complaints,” according to a report released Monday by the Joint Oversight for Ukraine Response. “Although not all complaints are relevant to the OIGs' oversight mandates, each complaint is reviewed, processed and, if appropriate, referred for investigation."
As of March 1, the three OIGs had received 189 Ukraine response-related hotline complaints, including allegations submitted by Ukrainian citizens regarding alleged misconduct within Ukraine, according to the report. 

“OIG investigations resulting from these and other allegations have not substantiated significant waste, fraud or abuse.”

Congress appropriated $42 million to the three Offices of Inspector General and the Government Accountability Office to conduct oversight of the Ukraine response.

To date, 17 oversight reports have been completed and 72 remain in progress.

The majority of Ukraine response funds have been supplied by the Defense Department, followed by the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development. (Defense Department chart)

France will double the number of 155 mm shells delivered to Ukraine from 1,000 rounds per month to 2,000 rounds per month, French Armed Forces Minister Sébastien Lecornu told the French Le Figaro newspaper on Tuesday, according to the French BMFTV news outlet.

Paris will "deliver land equipment necessary for Ukraine's counter-offensive: we are thus doubling the delivery of 155 mm shells to bring it to 2,000 per month from the end of March,” Lecornu said in a joint interview with Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire.

Ukraine, in contrast, has been using about 110,000 155mm shells a month, a quarter of the amount used by Russia, Ukraine's Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said earlier this month, according to FT.

More information has emerged about China providing supplies that Russia is using on the battlefield in its ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

"A Russian body armor manufacturer is importing Chinese components for its vests — some of which are being used on the battlefield in Ukraine, according to trade data, photographs and Ukrainians who say they’ve recovered the vests from the front lines," POLITICO reported Tuesday.

"In 2022, multiple Chinese companies, including one linked to the government in Beijing, sent parts for body armor manufacturing to Klass, a Russian manufacturer of body armor with ties to the country’s national guard and law enforcement, according to customs and trade data obtained by POLITICO from Import Genius, a customs data aggregator."

The U.S. decision to fly its surveillance drones further south over the Black Sea after a Russian jet collided with a U.S. drone on March 14 “definitely limits our ability to gather intelligence” related to the Ukraine war, according to CNN, citing "a senior US military official."

"Flying drones at greater distances reduces the quality of intelligence they can gather, a US military official explained, noting that spy satellites can compensate to some degree but have shorter times over targets, again reducing effectiveness relative to surveillance drones," according to CNN.

A resident of Svitino, a village some 20 miles southwest of Moscow and more than 250 miles from the border with Ukraine, found a drone, made out of wood and foam, painted in the blue and yellow of Ukraine, the Russian outlet Baza reported on its Telegram channel Tuesday.

The wreckage of the drone was found near the railway tracks, according to Baza.

"The wreckage was found by a resident of the village of Svitino when he was walking his dog. They were about 100 meters [328 feet] from the railway," according to Baza. The estimated wingspan of the fallen UAV is two meters [6.6 feet]. According to the man who discovered the drone, 'Glory to Ukraine' was written on its wings.

It remains unknown what the drone's point of origin was, however, it seems unlikely that it took off from Ukraine.

Russia's Defense Ministry, which makes frequent false claims about losses of U.S.-supplied weaponry in Ukraine, for the first time said that its forces downed a Ground Launched Small Diameter Bomb (GLSDB), according to its Telegram channel.

The GLSDBs, which have a range of about 90 miles, were officially promised to Ukraine on Feb. 3 and at the time, were not expected to be delivered for several months, according to the Pentagon.

On Tuesday, the Pentagon said it was aware of Russia's claim, but could not confirm that the GLSDBs are operational in Ukraine.

“We are always concerned with what is going on in Ukraine, but we will wait for insight from our Ukrainian partners while comparing with our own intelligence assessments before making a determination into the validity of the claims.”

Whether the Russians actually intercepted a GLSDB or this falls into the category of habitually false claims about battlefield successes out of Moscow - like when the Russian Ministry of Defense claimed they destroyed more U.S. M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS than were actually sent to Ukraine - remains to be seen.

Every time we think we've seen the lowest of low passes by helicopters in this conflict, new videos, like the one below, emerge of even lower flying.

Remember those playing cards the U.S. made to help identify Saddam Hussein and other Iraqi leaders?

Well, the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) has put together a new deck of cards, "with pictures of 52 different NATO-made tanks, armored personnel carriers, trucks, artillery pieces and other weapons systems, plus two jokers," The New York Times reported Tuesday.

The idea, said Maj. Andrew Harshbarger, a spokesman for the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command, is to enable soldiers to quickly “identify enemy equipment and distinguish the equipment from friendly forces.”

And finally, with the 2023 Major League season set to open this week, it seems like baseball fever has spread to the Ukrainian battlefield.

That's it for now. We'll update this story when there's more new to report about Ukraine.

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