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SOURCE: TUSHKAR SHIRODKAR / FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG.

After the Trump administration cleared the sale of 66 F-16V to the Republic of China Air Force (ROCAF) and also cleared the path of upgrading its current fleet of 115 F-16s jets to the Dash-5 Upgrade configuration, Reports by Tawainese media have emerged after the supply of 66 F-16V ROCAF plans to resale its 54 Dassault Mirage 2000-5EI to an existing operator due to they are expensive to maintain and ROCAF has no budget left for them to be upgraded since their induction in 1992.

Taipei’s focus on US systems at the expense of the more costly French jets has been widely criticized by the French side but Taiwanese Defence officials have acknowledged that the parts and supplies needed to maintain them were more expensive than those needed for the indigenous aircraft and the F-16s as more of the island’s shrinking defence budget was earmarked for US weapons.

Taipei will spend nearly NT$13 billion (US$430 million) upgrading its existing F-16s fleet in the next five years and another US$13 Billion in the purchase of 66 F-16-V fight jets which will squeeze out every penny from its defense budget, which means nothing can be set aside for Mirage upgrades. With the addition of 66 New F-16s, Taipei’s F-16 fleet will be exactly 208 along with 130 locally developed AIDC F-CK-1 Ching-Kuo fighter jet.

Taipei till now was the third-biggest operator of the Dassault Mirage 2000-5EI worldwide only behind United Arab Emirates Air Force (UAEAF) which operates 60 and the French Air Force which operates 315. Indian Air Force (IAF) operates around 49 Dassault Mirage 2000 which now has been locally upgraded to Dash-5 configuration which makes it the fourth-biggest operator presently.

In 1984, the original Mirage deal was signed, the ‘Intention to Proceed’ contract was for an initial order of 40 aircraft for outright purchase in fly-away condition and an option to produce another 110 Mirages in Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in Bangalore, for which Dassault was agreeable to provide a total technology transfer. While India in past procured an additional 10 Mirage-2000s from France and was also interested in 12 Qatari Mirage-2000-5EDA but talks failed due to the high price. IAF still has plans to procure 2 more Two-seat trainers which were lost in accidents and might see Taiwan has one of the options to procure them.

IAF’s Mirage-2000 fleet is now 36 years old but it still has plans to operate the Mirage-2000 fleet for another 15 years or so before they are replaced by Tejas Mk2 which currently is under development. The youngest of the Mirage-2000s fleet operated by ROCAF is just over 25 years old, air frames still have some good 10 years of airworthy life left in them and even procurement of 20-25 odd could come as a good boost to the current Mirage-2000 fleet which from Kargil War to Balakot Air strikes has been IAF’s go-to fighter jets for complicated operations.

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Article by TUSHKAR SHIRODKAR ,  cannot be republished Partially or Full without consent from Writer or idrw.org