Julian Moxon/PARIS

Dassault has adapted the Mirage 2000 to meet varying export requirements

The Mirage 2000-5 was the first front-line fighter from Dassault Aviation that specifically responded to the demands of the export market, rather than a domestic French air force requirement. The latest version, the 2000-5MkII, incorporates the most advanced integrated avionics suite yet developed for a Mirage.

Philippe Pardessus, programme manager of the 2000-5 and 2000-9 (now renamed the -5MkII) says the aircraft was conceived largely in response to developments in the USA, and particularly to the initial flight test, in 1981, of the US AMRAAM air-to-air missile.

"That made French industry realise it had to respond," says Pardessus. The 2000-5, designed from the outset as a "true multi-role aircraft", was privately funded by Dassault and Thomson-CSF, the latter developing the RDY multi-role radar, designed to operate with the Matra/BAe Dynamics Mica radar-guided air-to-air missile.

A further export demand was that the original Mirage 2000 needed more range. Studies carried out for the United Arab Emirates, which ordered the aircraft equipped with six Micas, indicated that the four underwing missiles could be moved to underfuselage locations, freeing the wing stations for fuel tanks with a capacity of between 1,300 litres (345USgal) and 2,000 litres, depending on how many missiles are carried. This effectively doubles the potential range of the aircraft to about 3,330km (1,800nm) while retaining its full air-to-air combat capability. The 2000-5 can also carry a pair of Magic 2 infrared-guided air-to-air missiles on the wingtip stations.

The improvements, costing "around Fr2 billion [$330 million]", included the multi-role capability, achieved by incorporating a new weapons system, the RDY multi-mode radar, an integrated countermeasures system and a multifunction datalink.

The Mirage 2000-5 first flew in 1990 and the first order came two years later from Taiwan, with delivery beginning in May 1996 and service entry a year later. The French air force placed an order for 37 aircraft in November 1993. All 37 are being converted from 2000C standard under a French Government contract worth $850 million. The first delivery to an operational squadron is due in April.

The next customer was Qatar, which ordered 12 aircraft in 1994. The -5 was then improved further to meet the UAE's specific requirements. This aircraft took the 2000-9 designation for the first time. The UAE ordered 33 new aircraft, along with an upgrade of its30 2000s to -9 standard. The -9 (now the -5MkII) has replaced the -5 as the standard for the export market.

Updated avionics

Information about the -5MkII remains scanty because of the UAE's reluctance to reveal its full capabilities. Dassault explains: "The Mirage 2000-5MkII is basically a third-generation airframe with fourth generation avionics."

The RDY pulse-Doppler radar - Thomson-CSF's first - follows the RDI originally specified for the 2000. The RDY provides look-up/look-down, shoot-up/shoot-down tracking with a range of more than 70km, although in tests with the French air force, the radar has demonstrated a "clear appreciation of the situation" at 140km. It can simultaneously detect up to 24 targets at all altitudes and track the eight most important, with automatic priority on four.

The RDY operates on three pulse-repetition frequencies - high, medium and low - and changes mode automatically to enable multiple air and ground target detection. For surface (including marine) detection, the radar employs Doppler beam sharpening, terrain mapping and air-ground ranging.

Several electronic threats can be handled simultaneously with a new-generation multi-mission integrated electronic warfare suite developed for the UAE aircraft by Thomson-CSF Detexis (the merged Thomson-CSF Radar & Countermeasures and Dassault Electronique) and Thomson's Italian subsidiary, Elettronica. Enemy radars are detected and analysed using "smart digital technique generators" combining radar and laser warning, missile detection, jamming and interception.

Also developed for the UAE 2000-5MkII, but now offered for export, is the pylon-mounted Thomson Optronics Nahar navigation forward-looking infrared (FLIR) sensor, coupled with the Shehab targeting pod. The Shehab, renamed Damocles, will also equip the Dassault Rafale, where it will be coupled with the front-sector optronics system.

The system gives the -5MkII a night attack capability that it previously lacked. The Shehab pod, working between the 3-5 micron waveband, is carried on the 400kg (880lb) capacity inboard wing station, and provides an accuracy "of at least a metre" for ground attack missions .

Besides the six radar-guided or infrared Mica air-to-air missiles, the Mirage 2000-5MkII carries the Hakim laser/television/infrared-guided day/night air-to-surface missile developed by GEC-Marconi for the UAE. The weapon can be fired at targets more than 50km away and has a claimed accuracy "better than 2m", says Dassault.

The 250km-range Black Shaheen cruise missile has also been specified for the -5MkII. Weighing 1,300kg, the 5.1m-long missile uses infrared terminal guidance, with an accuracy of "a few metres". The aircraft is also available with Matra/BAe Dynamics' 150km-range Apache anti-runway weapon, from which the Black Shaheen has been derived.

The UAE order is the first in which the infrared version of the Mica has been offered. Development of this version has been stretched out, because of a French Government-imposed delay in the Rafale programme, but is due to be completed by the end of the year, with production beginning in mid-2000. UAE aircraft will also be fitted with the new Matra BAe Dynamics Eclair self-defence decoy system.

A new "glass" cockpit was developed for the 2000-5 with "hands on throttle and stick" controls incorporating head-up/head-level displays, a pair of lateral colour displays for sensor and system management, and a head-down display for tactical information.

For the UAE -5MkII, Sextant Avionique is supplying liquid crystal displays of a larger format than those on the earlier aircraft, as well as its new inertial navigation system (replacing the Sagem-supplied equipment on the 2000-5), based on the new Pixyz ring laser gyro.

Source: Flight International