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A decade after the ambitious project began, the Indian Air Force (IAF) is nearing the finish line in its Mirage 2000 upgrade program. The final upgraded aircraft is expected to be delivered by the end of this year, marking the completion of a project beset by delays and challenges.

In 2011, India signed a $2.5 billion contract with Dassault Aviation to upgrade 51 of its Mirage 2000 fighter jets. This comprehensive upgrade aimed to bolster the aircraft’s capabilities with new avionics, radars, communication systems, and more. Originally slated for completion in 2021, the project faced several setbacks.

Challenges and Delays:

  • Technical complexity: Integrating advanced systems proved more challenging than anticipated.
  • Fatal accident: A 2019 incident involving an upgraded Mirage during a test flight raised safety concerns and led to investigations.
  • COVID-19 pandemic: The global pandemic disrupted supply chains and hampered work progress.
  • Integration issues: The IAF raised concerns about specific system integrations in the final operational configuration (FOC) variant.

Despite the hurdles, the upgrade program is nearing its conclusion. Around 90% of the Mirage 2000 fleet has already been upgraded, and the remaining aircraft are in the final stages of modification. Delivery of the last upgraded jet is expected by the end of 2024.

Once complete, the upgraded Mirage 2000s will equip the IAF with a more capable and technologically advanced fighter jet fleet. The modernized avionics, radars, and communication systems will enhance their situational awareness, targeting accuracy, and overall combat effectiveness.

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