On March 10, 1978, the prototype of the Mirage 2000 took off for the first time. Intended to replace the Mirage III/V and IV of the Air Force, the aircraft was an undeniable success, both from a commercial point of view with 601 aircraft produced, half of which are dedicated to export to 8 international air forces, but also from a technological and operational point of view, the "2000" being the first aircraft to combine the performance of the Delta wing which made the success of the Mirage III , and the combination of electric flight controls and advanced high-lift devices, offering very high performance to this single-engine aircraft considered by many to be the only competitor of the famous American F-16. The fact is, like the American aircraft, the Mirage 2000 today still represents the armed fist of many armed forces almost 45 years after its first flight, and is still considered the best fighter in service in Greece, but also in India, in the opinion of the pilots themselves, at least until the arrival of its designated successor, the Rafale. Less than 15 meters long with a 10-meter wingspan, the French fighter relied on an excellent new SNECMA turbojet engine, the M53, developing 6,8 tonnes of dry thrust and almost 10 tonnes with afterburner, for a mass of only 7600 kg empty, giving the aircraft very high performance, with a maximum speed of Mach 2.2 at high altitude and Mach 1,2 at low altitude, but also in terms of climbing speed with more than 18.000 m/minute at sea level. In addition, its delta wing gave it excellent lift and great maneuverability, particularly at medium and high speeds, and if its on-board electronics took longer to achieve the desired performance, the Mirage 2000 was on a par with the F-16 in this field from the end of the 80s, especially since it could rely on new ammunition that was also very efficient, such as the MICA air-air missile.
In addition to its performance allowing it to compete with the majority of modern combat aircraft, including some much heavier and more expensive, the Mirage perfectly prepared the ground for the Rafale, Egypt, but also Qatar, India , Greece and the United Arab Emirates having chosen the flagship of Dassault Aviation to take over from their valiant 2000s. But if the Rafale is called upon to replace the Mirage 2000s within these air forces, it does the endgame for the French single engine. Indeed, whether it is the United Arab Emirates, but also Qatar, which have the most recent Mirage fleets, it appears that international demand is strong to acquire these second-hand aircraft. There is thus talk that Morocco plans to equip itself with about thirty Emirati Mirage 2000-9, while recent information reports the possible acquisition of the Mirage 2000 EDA and DDA of the Qatar Air Force by Indonesia. as a transitional solution to replace its Su-27 and Su-30 still in service, pending the ramp-up of the Rafale fleet. As for Greece, India, Taiwan and Egypt, all seem determined to use their fleet of 2000 until the end of their potential, so much the apparatus offers important performances, in particular with regard to the missions interception and air superiority.
The obvious attractiveness of this device on the international scene shows, if it were necessary, that there is indeed a very significant market for what concerns a single-engine fighter with high performance but economical to purchase and to operate. use, such as the Mirage 2000, the F-16 or the JAS-39, and towards which several recent programs are heading, such as the South Korean KF-21 Boramae, the Turkish TFX or the Indian Tejas Mk2. However, this niche has been precisely the field of excellence of the French aeronautical industry since the end of the 50s, and the arrival of the Mirage III, an aircraft which, by the admission of American analysts at the time, offered performance comparable to that of American aircraft, often much heavier and more expensive, which prompted the US Air Force to give in to the Fighter Mafia to design the F-16, where its generals favored the F-15 and the F -111 in the early 70s. However, neither the Rafale, which evolves in the category of medium fighters like the F/A-18 and the Typhoon, nor its successor the NGF resulting from the hypothetical SCAF program, which will evolve without the slightest doubt in the category of heavy fighters (over 30 tons), judging by its dimensions and ambitions, do not offer an answer to this market, both of which are certainly more efficient, but also considerably more expensive to implementation than a Mirage 2000 or a JAS-39 Gripen, whosethe hour of flight is around $6000 compared to more than double for the Rafale, the Typhoon and the Super Hornet, and more than triple for the F-15EX and the F-35.
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