France’s DGA defence procurement agency has contracted Dassault to provide a mid-life upgrade to 55 of the French air force’s Mirage 2000D ground-attack aircraft.

Taking the fleet’s service life “beyond 2030”, the modernisation activity has been expected for some time due to the heavy demand placed on the aircraft in support of ongoing operations in the Middle East.

According to the DGA, the upgrade will allow the type to continue operating alongside the air force’s Dassault Rafales – in line with promises made in France’s most recent Livre Blanc strategic plan to keep 225 air force and navy fighters operational.

The package will include avionics upgrades, the addition of an air-to-ground cannon, and the replacement of the Matra/MBDA Magic short-range air-to-air missiles that it currently carries. It will instead deploy MBDA’s Mica, which is already used by the air force’s Mirage 2000-5 fighters and the Rafale.

The airframer says the planned modifications demonstrate the “upgradeability of Dassault aircraft based on operational lessons learned”.

Mirage 2000D v Mali - French MoD

French defence ministry

The French air force operates 71 Mirage 2000Ds, which were delivered between 1993 and 2002, Flight Fleets Analyzer shows.

France is using the fleet in support of its Opération Chammal effort in Iraq and Syria, carrying out both intelligence and offensive missions against Islamic State militants.

Five Mirage 2000Ds are deployed to a forward operating base in Jordan, where they operate alongside a trio of Mirage 2000Ns and six Rafales, plus Dassault/Breguet Atlantique 2 maritime patrol aircraft.

Mirage 2000Ds carried out their first mission in support of the coalition campaign over in Iraq on 12 December 2014, and contributed to the 10,000 flight hour milestone that the French forces achieved on 15 July, the DGA says.