Why did India choose Mirage 2000 to attack the terrorist bases in Pakistan and POK?
Mirage-2000 is a dedicated platform for this role, which coupled with it’s Unique Safety Record and Multirole Nature made it the most fitting option for Indian Air Force to strike terror targets inside Pakistan.Mirage-2000 were first procured by India in 1985 with Indian Air Force being the first export customer of such a type. Mirage-2000 were procured by Indian Air Force in response to Pakistani acquisition of F-16 Fighter Jets and were dedicated to fulfilling the role of a Medium Weight Fighter with Indian Air Force which was sorely lacking after the obsolescence of the earlier Hawker Hunter Aircrafts which were to be retired by next decade. Over the years, Mirage-2000 of Indian Air Force were dedicated for Ground Attack Role, Electronic Warfare and Air Defence Role.
Indian Air Force sources said the aircraft was preferred as it is capable of long-range engagement of targets and the assessment was that it can record 100 per cent success rate.The Mirage also is fitted with the state-of-the art Thales RDY 2 radar system, which has a better look down and look up capabilities. It also can track more objects at the same time and has a longer range.
The Mirage comes with a fly-by-wire flight control system with a Sextant VE-130 HUD, or Head Up Display that allows the pilot to see all the flight, navigation, target and weapons information in a virtual display array on a screen just in front of the windshield.
The Mirage 2000 is an aircraft on of its. Mirage 2000 is considered to be the best of the ground attack aircraft under the IAF. What exactly sets it apart is it’s the ‘high drag and low wing’ loading clubbed with high percentage of thrust. The Mirage has a Delta wing design which is very helpful in greater Maneuverability. This factor can be a deciding factor in a dog fight.
In Balakot Air Strikes, Mirage-2000 were equipped with SPICE-2000 Glide Bombs which were required to strike their designated targets with utmost accuracy. In Indian Air Force’s arsenal, only Mirage-2000 and Su-30MKI are capable to carry the SPICE-2000 Bomb Kits. The reason to use the SPICE-2000 Precision Weapon, leaving behind Griffin Laser Guided Bomb (used by SEPECAT Jaguar and Mig-27) and CBU-105 Sensor Fuzed Cluster Bombs (used by SEPECAT Jaguar) is due to the reason, that Indian Air Force wanted to minimize the collateral damage.
Unlike popular belief, SPICE-2000 would have never pulverized and razed the target down as we see in other Bombs that would cause widespread explosion obliterating the target. This is due to the fact that the Mirage-2000 relied on the more reliable Penetrator Variant of SPICE-2000 which features a Hard Metal Reinforced Casing with a TNT Warhead of mass no greater than 80–90 kgs. This would just penetrate the target and create a low explosion eliminating its target with the shrapnel inside and the pressure created due to heat. This makes SPICE-2000 such a good weapon of choice especially for attacking targets in Urban Terrain where collateral damage runs high.
These Mirage-2000 were also fitted with a Pegasus Data-Link Pod which feeds the algorithm for striking its target which in India’s case “Top-Attack” rather than the commonly used “Shallow-Dive” with the target to be recognized as a lone concrete structure situated on a Hill-Top, cut from other man-made structures in the area.
Another reason why Mirage-2000 would have been chosen is because of its comparatively lower Radar Cross Section (RCS) compared to other frontline Indian Air Force Fighter Jets like Su-30MKI and Mig-29. Besides, Mirage-2000 the only other aircraft in Indian service which could have undertaken such a role would be SEPECAT Jaguar and Mig-27UPG but their biggest handicap is that both have poor Self-Defence Capabilities and lack Electronic Warfare equipment which would have made them need Escorts like Su-30MKI to meet their ends.
Mirage-2000 were just a piece in the deception puzzle launched by Indian Air Force on 26th February to distract Pakistani Air Force. Two Combat Air Patrols (CAP) of Pakistani Air Force were airborne at that time near Rafiqui and Sargodha and to distract them 12 Mirage-2000 aircraft broke into two formations of 6-each with the formation further breaking up into two formations of three Mirage-2000 each.
This was done at Okara-Bahawalpur Sector and Halwara to distract Pakistani Combat Air Patrols while three Mirage-2000 commenced the attack with the remaining three Mirage-2000 equipped with SPICE-2000 heading for their primary target. This was made possible due to Terrain Hugging Tactics, due to which they would be “less visible” to Pakistani radars at that time. Six more Mirage-2000 joined them over the Keran Valley and by the time, Pakistan would have responded with an F-16 scramble, Indian Mirage-2000 had finished their job while making a Return to Base (RTB) with F-16, still a good distance before reaching their demolished targets.
Balakot Air Strike just reinforced the belief that Indian Air Force keeps with the Mirage ever since the 1999 Kargil conflict when it used Paveway Guided Bombs Kit to strike positions occupied by Pakistani infiltrators. Mirage-2000 has been recognized to possess better reliability and more multirole capability than other frontline Indian Air Force fighters. Su-30MKI is purely an “Air Dominance Fighter” and to have performed such a mission, it would need to enforce complete Aerial Superiority which would go against the Non-Militaristic Nature of the operation. Similarly, Mig-29, SEPECAT Jaguar and Mig-27 lacked the required weapon systems for such an operation.
Mirage-2000 combined all the unique facets of undertaking such an operation relying on its Weapon Systems, Sensors, Self-Defence Equipments and Electronic Nature to deceive the enemy and undertake the operation. A few days later, the upgraded Mirage-2000 saw yet another action against Pakistani JF-17 and Mirage-III/V where the Mirage-2000 deterred a Pakistani Strike Formation at a disadvantage of 1:6 with their MICA Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile, leading the Pakistani Strike Package to fail in its objective of deploying Stand-Off Weapons against Indian targets. Mirage-2000 has time and again shown its capability and why Indian Air Force places its best bet on these French platforms which will be further compounded by the arrival of Rafales.