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SOURCE: RAUNAK KUNDE / NEWS BEAT / IDRW.ORG.

Pakistan Air Force’s plans to acquire 36 retired Mirage V jets that were retired from service by the Egyptian Air Force long ago to be later upgraded, so that it can be re-inducted into PAF received a massive jolt when Dassault, makers of the jet refused to upgrade them on direct orders from the French Defence ministry. The relationship between Paris and Islamabad has been on the downward trend after Pakistani politicians due to their self-appointed role as leader of the Islamic world started talking about French policies of its Muslim population after a spate of attacks in the country.

PAF’s Mirage fleet consists of 90 Mirage-III and 90 Mirage-V aircraft for interceptor and attack roles respectively. Pakistani Air Force has been operating Mirage combat jets for the last 50 years now and has no plans to retire them as it continues to procure retired and scraped jets from former operators. PAF despite the induction of the JF-17, continues to trust a 50-year-old aircraft over its locally produced Chinese JF-17 due to the absence of better weapon-carrying capacity of the Mirage fleet.

Mirage Rebuild Factory, established by the Pakistan Air Force in 1978, is used to overhaul the present fleet but also has Fuselage Structural Repair Facility and a Wing Refurbishing Facility that is used to repair damages that these aging jets incur due to routine operations. PAF is facing problems of cracked ribs in the wings of some of its Mirage fleet that requires some help from Dassault engineers for proper assessments if it can be fixed and made airworthy again, but some can’t be fixed due to which some aircraft are procured only for cannibalization purpose.

French media reported that not only Pakistan’s request for the present 36 ex Egyptian Mirage-V fleet has been rejected, but Dassault has also been told to stop any close cooperation with the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) Kamra that is in charge of the Mirage Rebuild Factory. Dassault might also stop sending refurbished spares and parts for the PAF Mirage fleet from its retired aircraft that has been cataloged and stored since PAF is now the lone operator of both Mirage variants.

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