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Pentagon welcomes France’s decision to transfer Mirage 2000s to Ukraine

Following a meeting with NATO Ministers of Defense, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III commented on recent developments in Western allies’ supply of fighter jets to Ukraine. 

On June 6, 2024, French President Emmanuel Macron announced the transfer of Dassault Mirage 2000-5 fighter jets to Ukraine by the end of 2024.

This came as a surprise since a week prior, Sweden suspended its plan to sell Gripen C/Ds to Ukraine in order to prioritize the introduction of the F16. 

“Our partners emphasize that the simultaneous introduction of two air combat systems is very complex and that it is now necessary to focus on the entry into service of the F-16 within the Ukrainian Air Force,” Pål Jonson, the Swedish Minister of Defense, explained at the time.  

Yet, when asked about France’s decision to supply Ukraine with an additional fighter model alongside the F-16, the US Secretary of Defense expressed his approval. 

“We’re working hard to get Ukraine an F-16 capability this summer, and […] I’m optimistic that that will happen,” Austin stated. “And I also welcome France’s contribution because every bit helps.” 

Austin underscored the importance of ensuring multiple complex systems are sustainable and interoperable for effective use in Ukraine.  

“I’m sure that, you know, once the training is complete, and once all of the coordination has been done, we’ll see some good results, but every little bit helps,” the US defense secretary concluded. 

The Mirage 2000-5 is a fighter jet developed by Dassault Aviation in the 1970s. The 2000-5 is an air superiority variant of the aircraft. The French Air and Space Force fighters, which are to be transferred to Ukraine, are well-known within NATO operations. 

The ones operated by the 1/2 Cigognes squadron are regularly deployed as part of the Baltic Air Policing mission to ensure the protection of the airspace of the three Baltic states, which have no airborne capability of their own. A few more airframes are flown by the 3/11 Corse squadron, responsible for airspace surveillance at Air Base 188 Djibouti. 

The number of Mirage jets being transferred has not been specified. However, some have questioned the relevance of France sending fighter jets to Ukraine. Indeed, France only has 26 Mirage 2000-5s at its disposal.  

Other countries, such as Greece and Qatar, operate the same variant of the fighter jet. But Greece has refused to part with its aerial combat capabilities, while Qatar appears more inclined to sell its fighters second-hand, with India recently voicing its interest. 

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