The French ARES turns to the Mirage 2000 to train the European armies

In recent years, several companies have specialized in providing advanced air service to armies around the world. This is particularly the case in a very specific field, that of RedAirs, namely private aircraft playing the role of hostile aircraft to train the air, naval and land forces to face this type of adversaries. This phenomenon took in particular a meteoric boom in the United States for 5 years, since the market, which brings together players such as Draken or Atac, has now reached its maturity threshold in a market that exceeds one billion dollars annually.

It must be said that, for the armed forces, this type of service has many interests. On the one hand, it makes it possible to preserve resources, both personnel and the potential of weapon aircraft, which we know are very expensive, but above all it offers flexibility which is all the more important given the volume of air fleets. have been halved, and sometimes three, over the past 20 years. Therefore, it is much simpler and more economical for a General Staff to call on a private service provider who will dispatch a device to serve as a boss (simulated target) to train anti-aircraft defense personnel or air detectors. a combat ship or an air base, than to set up a mission of this type with the Air Force or the Naval Aeronautics, moreover already requested beyond their capacities. Better still, some companies now offer to integrate into the Agressor system with high-performance weapon planes such as the Mirage F1 or the Kfir, to engage in simulated aerial combat against pilots in training. The interest of this approach is twofold, since the flight hour of an F1 mirage is 5 times less expensive than that of an F35 and 2 times less expensive than that of an F16, and that the devices have qualities very different flight patterns, forcing the pilot in training to adapt to face a jet that is faster and more maneuverable than himself. If this reminds you of a passage from the movie "Top Gun", it is normal: the Fighter Weapon School of Miramar, commonly known as Top Gun, is none other than the first Western Aggressor Squadron to have emerged.

In 2017, the American SMP DRAKEN bought 22 second-hand Mirage F1s from Spain to meet the training needs of the US armies.

If RedAir took off for almost 10 years across the Atlantic, this type of service has only appeared in France and Europe more recently. Thus, since 2015, the French company SDTS offers services of this type, in particular for plastron missions for the benefit of the French Navy. At the same time, the aircraft maintenance company SECAERO developed its client portfolio and its know-how, particularly in the field of maintaining demilitarized combat aircraft in operational condition. These two companies recently announced their merger in order to give birth to the company ARES, whose ambition is to become one of the major players in RedAir in Europe in the years to come. For this, the company relies on a fleet made up of 9 training Aermacchi MB339s, 1 Cessna 337 push-pull aircraft, 1 CTSW light aircraft and 2 Merlin III twin-engine aircraft for hire. Above all, ARES announced earlier this week that it had obtained an agreement for acquire 4 Mirage 2000 to one of the French aircraft's export customers.

The arrival of Mirage 2000, whose exact origin and model are still unknown (and not the fact of having used illustrations of Greek m2000 is not a hidden message), represents a first in the Redair universe at on a worldwide scale, being the first so-called “4th generation” aircraft to join this market. What is more, the devices acquired by ARES will be “emissive”, that is to say that they will be equipped with their radar and their sensors, and that they will therefore be able to finely simulate perfectly modern adversaries, without requiring the pod carriage. In addition, beyond Redair and aeronautical maintenance, ARES is developing a new pole of excellence in the field of onboard optronics, in order to be able to simulate, soon, passive engagements against so-called 5th generation combat aircraft. . If the first delivery will concern 4 mirage 2000, ARES aims, in the long term, to line up a fleet of 18 aircraft, of which 8 to 10 will be in flight condition, the others serving as sources of parts.

The Mirage 2000 is one of the most efficient aircraft of what is referred to as the "4th generation" of combat aircraft.

Maintenance, in fact, is at the heart of ARES 'strategy. For this, the company has joined forces with the 4 major players in the Mirage 2000 industrial ecosystem, Dassault Aviation for the airframe and the flight system, Safran for the M53 reactor, Thales for the radar (RDI?, RDY? RDY-2 ???), and MBDA for on-board armament, because even if the planes will naturally not carry active ammunition, the participation of the European missile will make it possible to simulate many scenarios. This agreement will allow ARES to guarantee its customers a quality of service and a level of security comparable to that of the armed forces, again at prices, availability and operational flexibility beyond compare with the use of aircraft. modern weapon to perform these missions. The participation and commitments of French industrialists in this adventure can also open up new opportunities, several air forces, such as the UAE, having repeatedly weighed the order for Rafale against the takeover or sale of second-hand vehicles. their mirage 2000. There is no doubt that beyond Ares, other players and in particular the major American players such as Atak and Draken, may be interested in a similar service with the national aeronautics industry, thus paving the way for further development. new commercial opportunities for the Rafale.

It now remains for ARES to transform the test, and to seduce beyond French borders to validate its model. The European dimension is at the heart of the company's strategy, which has thus moved closer to the European Defense Agency, based in Brussels, itself at the forefront of promoting this approach with European armies. There is no doubt that with an aerial fleet made up of Mirage 2000, the industrial partnership with the French BITD, and the support of customers such as the French Navy for whom SDTS carried out 500 hours of breastplate flight each year, the doors will quickly open. .

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