Business & GA, Commercial, Military

UAE’s Modernized Mirage

By Ian Parker | June 1, 2000
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At the Dubai Air Show last November, the Gulf Aircraft Maintenance Co. (GAMCO) announced that it had won a contract from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Air Force and Air Defence to maintain and upgrade UAE’s Mirage 2000s. The UAE Air Force has ordered 30 new Mirage 2000-9s and GAMCO will retrofit 33 of its existing 61 Mirage 2000s to the -9 standard.

The $50-million contract allows GAMCO to pursue servicing and upgrade business on Mirage 2000s from other countries. For example, Egypt has 40 and Qatar has 12. Mirages also have been sold to Greece, India, Peru, Abu Dhabi and Taiwan.

The Mirage 2000 was developed and is built by Dassault Aviation of France. The single-turbofan-powered, multirole aircraft first entered service with the French Air Force in 1984, and it joins other airframes that will last for decades but require periodic avionics upgrades.

A Durable Partnership

The GAMCO contract includes fourth line test benches and ground support equipment, spare parts, training and documentation. Allan Dollie, GAMCO’s managing director, says the agreement is important to the UAE Air Force and Air Defence, GAMCO and Dassault Aviation because it "establishes a durable partnership between the three parties for a self-supporting capability of all the Mirage 2000 components and mechanical systems in the UAE."

The UAE will be the first 2000-9 operator following its $2-billion order for the aircraft. Delivery of the new 2000-9s is scheduled for late 2001. The air force will form two or three squadrons.

Upgraded UAE 2000s will get the Thomson-CSF multimode fire control radar (RDY model), along with Matra’s MICA missile and its advanced short range air-to-air missile (ASRAAM) for air superiority. Matra BAe Dynamics expects the MICA and ASRAAM missile order will be worth about $515 million.

Dassault has built a number of Mirage 2000 variants. For example the French Air Force has the:

  • Mirage 2000C/B single-seater and two-seater for air defense;

  • Mirage 2000N two-seater for all-weather nuclear penetration at low altitude and high speed; and

  • Mirage 2000D, an upgraded version of the Mirage 2000N, for automated bombing with conventional and laser-guided munitions.

The Mirage 2000-5 is the latest version of the family, of which the 2000-9 is a special derivative for the UAE. The -5 has advanced avionics, multiple target air-to-ground and air-to-air capability using the RDY radar, and new sensor and control systems. Orders for more than 100 Mirage 2000-5s have been placed by the air forces of France (37), Taiwan (60), Qatar (12) and Greece (15). Greece also will upgrade 10 of its existing Mirage 2000s to the -5 standard. India has ordered 18 Mirage 2000Ds.

Cockpit and Radar

The Mirage 2000-5 single/two-seat multirole fighter has a VEH 3020 head-up display (HUD) from Thomson-CSF and a five-cathode ray tube (CRT) multifunction advanced pilot system interface (APSI) display, similar to the one in Dassault’s Rafale. The combined head-up/head-level display is collimated at infinity and presents data for flight control, navigation, air and ground target engagement, and weapons firing. Two color lateral displays present the aircraft’s sensor and system management information. The tactical situation display provides information derived from the advanced data fusion processors.

The hands-on throttle and stick (HOTAS) layout puts all the switches needed for combat within easy reach of the pilot’s fingers without him removing his hands from these two vital controls.

The Mirage 2000 has a multimode RDY Doppler radar that provides multitarget capacity in the air defense role and a look-down/shoot-down capability. The radar can detect 24 targets simultaneously and track the eight of highest priority.

A Mirage 2000’s comprehensive self-protection suite is installed internally and does not require any external pods. The 2000-5 carries the automated integrated countermeasures system (ICMS) Mk2 from Thomson-CSF Detexis. It incorporates a receiver and associated signal processing system in the nose for detection of hostile missile command data links. The aircraft’s self protection equipment can be interfaced to a new programmable mission planning and post mission analysis ground system.

Fly-by-wire controls are used in combination with a SFENA 608 autopilot. Other systems companies involved include:

  • Amphenol Canada Corp.–connectors and interconnection systems;

  • Celsius Tech Electronics–electronic warfare system;

  • Filtronic Components Ltd.–microwave subsystem;

  • LMB: fans and brushless motors;

  • SBS Technologies–Mil-Std-1553, ARINC 429 and telemetry products; and

  • Thomson CSF Communications–comms, nav and identification.

For more on Mirage 2000 avionics, visit, or

The Mirage’s Totem 3000

Little more than a year ago, Dassault chose Sextant Avionique’s Totem 3000 ring laser gyro, inertial navigation system (INS) for the Mirage 2000-5. The Totem 3000 is based on the Pixyz, an innovative monolithic 8.7-inch (22-cm) 3-axis ring laser gyro. It was designed to offer improvement over conventional inertial systems at a cost saving of up to 30%. The INS includes high performance accelerometers, a CDU 2000 control and display unit, and an embedded Topstar 1000 GPS board.

Totem 3000 has been chosen for several other military aircraft. This year, Sextant expects to produce more than 750 ring laser gyro navigation systems.

Mirage 2000’s Arsenal

The Mirage 2000 has nine hardpoints for weapons carriage, five on the fuselage and two on each wing. The single-seat version also has two internally mounted high-firing-rate 30mm guns. The upgraded digital weapon delivery and navigation system (WDNS) can accept the integration of new sensors.

Mirage 2000s can be fitted with a TV/CT convertible laser designation pod (CLDP) from Thomson CSF Optronique, allowing the use of laser guided weapons by day and night. The 2000-5 Mk2 will have the Damocles pod with a thermal imaging camera, also from Thomson CSF Optronique. The Mirage 2000 can bear a deadly arsenal. It includes from Matra BAe Dynamics:

  • MICA multitarget air-to-air missile;

  • Sky flash air-to-air missile;

  • Magic 2 combat missile;

  • Super 530D missile;

  • Armat anti-radar missile;

  • Rocket launchers;

  • Apache stand-off weapon; and

  • SCALP stealthy cruise missile;

And from Aerospatiale:

  • AS30L Armat anti-radar missiles; and

  • AM39 Exocet anti-ship missiles.

In November 1998, Matra BAe Dynamics signed a contract with the UAE to supply MICA air-to-air missiles and the Black Shaheen air-to-ground missiles. The contract is said to be worth $2 billion, two-thirds of which cover the cost of the Black Shahine.

Matra BAe Dynamics’ parent company, Lagardere, said the deal would allow it "to establish close cooperation with the United Arab Emirates for the next 20 years." Black Shahine (Black Falcon) is a long-range strike missile based on the Apache and SCALP EG stand-off weapons being built for France and the Storm Shadow, which will equip the UK’s Royal Air Force.

Helmet for the Mirage

At the Paris Air Show last year, Sextant Avionique announced that successful flight trials of its Topsight E helmet-mounted sight/display had been completed in a Mirage 2000. Topsight E displays critical information, protects the pilot, and provides communications. In the display of critical information, Topsight E has three main functions:

  • Visual target designation–by transmitting the target’s line of sight to the nav/attack system. Used with modern missiles, Topsight allows pilots to perform wide off-boresight target designation.

  • Visual target acquisition–using reverse cueing mode where the display symbology guides the pilot’s eyes to the target tracked by the aircraft sensors. The nav/attack system provides spatial data.

  • Situational awareness–based on concise display of vital information (tactical, navigation, safety, etc).

Topsight allows air forces to use existing oxygen masks without modifications. It also can be reconfigured in-flight on trainers to mimic the avionics and display symbology of various fighters, including the Mirage 2000. It has four integrated operational modes:

  • Navigation is based on ring laser gyro INS with embedded GPS receiver.

  • Air-to-air weapon delivery includes guns, rockets and high- and low-drag bombs using continuous computation of impact point (CCIP) and continuous computation of release point (CCRP).

  • Training includes failure simulations, as well as target and threat simulations.

  • The Topflight avionics suite features a full glass cockpit and HOTAS control, plus a range of avionics, linked to a 1553 multiplex bus.

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