French air force Dassault Mirage 2000D strike aircraft are to gain the ability to perform electronic intelligence (ELINT) missions, under a new deal with Thales.
Approved by France's DGA defence procurement agency, the ASTAC pod integration programme will see the 2000D fleet assume the tactical reconnaissance role currently held by the air force's aged Mirage F1s.
According to Thales, the 400kg (882lb) ASTAC pod's ELINT capabilities include the ability to locate and classify hostile emitters to support targeting applications or to inform an air force's electronic order of battle. The equipment was used by the F1 fleet during last year's NATO-led campaign to protect Libyan civilians, referred to by France as Operation "Harmattan".
"The contract includes all the modifications required to interface the ASTAC pods with the Mirage 2000D (below), including adaptation to the platform and adjustments to the countermeasures systems housed inside the pod," Thales said on 23 February.
© French air force
The work is due to conclude in 2014, with this to coincide with the planned retirement of the F1 fleet. More than 50 of the type are currently in active service with the French air force, according to Flightglobal's MiliCAS database.