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France still not willing to deliver Mirage 2000D to Ukraine

During the signing of a bilateral agreement between France and Ukraine in Paris on February 16, 2024, French President Emmanuel Macron reiterated his commitment to supporting Ukraine “for as long as necessary” to his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

However, despite committing to providing up to €3 billion in additional military aid in 2024, France continues to refuse to supply fighter jets to Ukraine in the near future.

In addition to pledges from the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, and Norway to provide F-16s, Ukraine’s military leadership is also seeking Dassault Mirage 2000D fighter-bombers.

The Mirage 2000D (Diversified) variant is an upgraded twin-seat iteration of the multirole fighter jet designed by Dassault Aviation during the 1970s. Derived from the Mirage 2000N (Nuclear), which served as the principal nuclear strike platform for the French Air Force until 2018 [replaced in this capacity by the Rafale – ed. note], the Mirage 2000D is tailored for extended-range precision strikes employing conventional armaments.

The fleet managed by the French Air and Space Force is currently undergoing a modernization initiative aimed at enhancing avionics and enabling the use of a new cannon pod and MICA air-to-air missiles. The initial batch of aircraft was delivered in 2021, with deliveries initially slated until 2025.

However, in January 2023, French President Emmanuel Macron disclosed that the forthcoming Military Planning Law (LPM) for 2024-2030 would end in the complete transition of the fighter fleet of the French Air and Space Force to “all Rafale,” indicating the retirement of all Mirage 2000. The LPM drafted in April 2023 unveiled a decrease in refurbished aircraft from 55 to 48.

According to Le Monde, France argues that Ukraine lacks the capability to operate several new fighter models and should prioritize a unified and streamlined approach centered on the F-16 rather than dispersing resources across multiple aircraft types. 

The French Air and Space Force is involved in the F-16 international coalition led by Denmark and the Netherlands. Although the French Air and Space Force has never employed US-made F-16 fighter jets, it possesses expertise in NATO standard training and procedures.

On September 3, 2023, Zelenskyy and Macron reported reaching a deal on training Ukrainian pilots in France. Weeks before, General James Hecker, commander of US Air Forces in Europe, US Air Forces Africa, and NATO Allied Command, hinted that Ukrainian pilots selected to operate the F-16 would “go down to France and fly in the Alpha Jet for a little bit.”

Sweden waits for full NATO membership to consider delivering Saab Gripen fighters

This difference in assessment has caused frustration in Kyiv. Kyrylo Budanov, the head of Ukrainian military intelligence, expressed this sentiment in an interview published on February 16, 2024, with the French daily Libération. 

“We expect France to provide us with aviation,” Budanov said. “The French government, if it wished, could provide greater assistance.”

Ukrainian officials have also shown interest in the Swedish-made Saab JAS 39 Gripen fighter, marketed as a robust aircraft that can operate and be maintained with a reduced logistical footprint.

Unlike France, Sweden seems more open to the idea, with Swedish Defense Minister Pal Jonson telling the Kyiv Independent that it would consider a Gripen delivery once the Nordic country becomes a full NATO member.

“Ukraine needs fourth-generation and fifth-generation fighter aircraft. If we, one way or another, can help you, we are open to that,” Jonson said.

The post France still not willing to deliver Mirage 2000D to Ukraine appeared first on AeroTime.

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