Should we expect delivery of French Mirage 2000D to Ukraine?

In just two days, on January 18, a crucial meeting will occur between the defense ministers of France and Ukraine. This important discussion is set to take place in Paris, involving Sebastien Lecorneau and Rustem Umerov. Predictably, the focus of the conversation will likely revolve around recent events in Ukraine, especially their staunch resistance to the Russian invasion. The discourse might lead Ukraine to make new pleas to France for additional support in the form of military supplies. This raises a crucial question – could we soon witness the French Mirage 2000D being dispatched to Ukraine? 

Dassault Mirage 2000 France
Photo credit: Pixabay

The Mirage 2000D name has been circulating among experts and analysts since last year, with their insights widely broadcasted by international media platforms. Yet, a few days back, a statement by Mykola Oleshchuk, the commander of Ukraine’s Air Force, has stirred the rumor mill even more. As RBC reported, Oleshchuk proposed, “The combative capabilities of the Su-24M bombers could be enhanced by the Mirage-2000D, and the Su-25 attack aircraft by the A-10 Thunderbolt II.”

The role of the Su-24

As a relic of Soviet-era warfare, the Su-24 tactical bomber has proven its significance in Ukraine’s combat aviation framework. Back in 2019, Ukraine had 23 operational Su-24 bombers. This was an offshoot of the estimated 120 units that came into their possession following the dissolution of the USSR. By 2023, Ukraine’s fleet had seemingly dwindled to 14 Su-24s. Nevertheless, accurately determining current figures is a complex task, as it is difficult to tally the number of combat aircraft lost in the throes of battle. Consequently, we’re left dealing in conjectures and assumptions. 

The critical role of the Su-24 bomber in Ukrainian warfare cannot be understated. With the onset of the war, Ukraine began depleting its Soviet-era ammunition reserves. This necessitated the modification of the Su-24 to accommodate Western munitions. For example, it took the French just a few weeks to complete the integration of the SCALP/Storm Shadow cruise missiles under the wings of the bomber, according to BulgarianMilitary.com. 

Such use of Western munitions may imply that the Dassault Mirage 2000D, which has characteristics similar to the Soviet Su-24, could be a valuable acquisition for Kyiv. Notably, the Mirage 2000D, another tactical bomber originating from France, is well-suited to arm and deploy Western cruise missiles. 

Dassault Mirage 2000-9 (Mk 2) multirole combat aircraft
Photo: Tactical Report

Building on this idea, Ukraine has recently been attempting to persuade Germany to provide them with the Taurus cruise missile. The incorporation of the Mirage 2000D into Ukraine’s defense arsenal could significantly speed up the process of integrating the Taurus missile into the Mirage 2000D, compared to the likely slower integration with the Su-24.

What are the possible delivery signals?

Renewed as the talk of the town among experts since spring 2023 is the well-renowned Mirage 2000D. It all began when Le Figaro, a reputable French publication, made claims based on its sources that Ukrainian pilots are actively training to master the Mirage 2000 at Mont de Marsan and Nancy, two of France’s prominent bases. 

Europe Can No Longer Rely on the US to Defend NATO Allies - Emmanuel Macron
Photo credit: Wikipedia

Reacting to the buzz, the French Ministry of the Armed Forces practiced caution and withheld confirmation of Le Figaro’s claims. The ministry replied contentedly, “Our focus has been on offering Ukrainian aircrews air defense and survival training, for situations where their planes encounter enemy fire, here in France.” 

Fast-forwarding to the following month, during a televised interview with TF1, French President Macron acknowledged that he had approved the training of Ukrainian fighter pilots, in collaboration with other European nations. However, Macron dismissed the idea of France donating fighter jets to Kyiv, referring to the idea as a purely “theoretical debate”

Nevertheless, by July, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky reignited discussions surrounding a potential donation of French fighter jets. He did this notably when he signed one of the SCALP cruise missiles that France had just delivered to the Ukrainian Air Force. Interestingly, the missile featured an emblem fusing half of a Su-24 “Fencer” with a Mirage 2000. 

Russian Foxhound did risky radar look-and-shoot but struck Su-24
Photo credit: Pinterst

Following this event, Intelligence Online [IO], an expert resource site, reported a dialogue between Mr Lecornu and Ukrainian counterpart Rustem Umerov about the delivery of a “fleet of six Mirage 2000 aircraft”. Despite the announcement of the initiation of training for up-and-coming Ukrainian fighter pilots soon in France, this question still lingers. 

Interestingly, what didn’t initially top Ukraine’s wish list from France has now emerged as a priority. Ukraine, having resumed negotiations to procure A-10 “Warthog” [or “Thunderbolt II”] attack aircraft, brought the Chief of Staff of the Air Force of Ukraine, Mykola Oleshchuk, into the limelight as he openly mentioned a possible Mirage 2000D delivery. 

Is there an imminent announcement regarding the Mirage 2000D joining the ranks of the Ukrainian Air Force? It’s plausible that Lecornu and Umerov will address this question during their upcoming meeting in Paris, scheduled for January 18.

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