The Indian air force is considering upgrading its fleet of Dassault Mirage 2000 fighters in the light of an increasing mishap rate involving the type.

The service lost three of the French-built aircraft between 23 September and 12 October, highlighting its need to approve a life-extension programme.

Plans call for the Mirage 2000 upgrade to follow the same lines as India's earlier projects to modernise its Mikoyan MiG-21 fighter and Hindustan Aeronautics-built Sepecat Jaguar strike aircraft fleets. Bangalore-based HAL, which has serviced and produced critical spares and components for the Mirage since 1998, will be the focal point for the upgrade process. India has two squadrons equipped with 42 Mirage 2000H fighters and eight Mirage 2000TH trainers.

Meanwhile, India is renegotiating a 2001 attrition deal to buy 10 more Mirage 2000H fighters, amid a contractual wrangle over aircraft specifications. Its air force could also acquire 125 more Mirage 2000s to meet a fighter requirement created by the planned retirement of its MiG-21s.

Source: Flight International