France to Arm Ukraine with Mirage 2000-5 Fighter Jets with Permission to Strike Military Targets in Russia

France to provide Ukraine with Mirage 2000-5 jets and train pilots, potentially allowing strikes on Russian soil in self-defense.  

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Girish Linganna
Girish Linganna
Girish Linganna is a Defence & Aerospace analyst and is the Director of ADD Engineering Components (India) Pvt Ltd, a subsidiary of ADD Engineering GmbH, Germany with manufacturing units in Russia. He is Consulting Editor Industry and Defense at Frontier India.

In an unexpected turn of events, French President Emmanuel Macron made the announcement on June 6 that France will be providing fighter jets of the Mirage 2000 model to Ukraine as part of its ongoing agreement to offer military assistance. As a result of previous statements made by French officials that appeared to minimize the likelihood of such a transfer, the decision has raised eyebrows both within France and globally.

The fact that Sweden recently indicated that it will halt its initiative to transfer JAS-39 Gripen fighter jets to Ukraine in order to prioritize the deployment of the F-16s that were promised by the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, and Belgium made this position all the more realistic.

Forbes wrote that Paris considered transferring about 20 Mirage 2000 fighters to Kyiv.

In an interview with a French television station TF1, Macron said the aircraft to be donated would be a Mirage 2000-5. When he meets with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at the Elysee Palace in Paris on the 7th, he will reportedly propose that pilot training begin this summer.

“(The training) normally takes five to six months, so we expect the training in France to be completed by the end of the year,” Macron said.

SCALP-EG cruise missiles and AASM Hammer “smart” bombs are examples of the advanced weapons that can be carried by the Mirage 2000-5, which is a modernized version of the fourth-generation Mirage 2000 military aircraft. President Macron announced that Ukrainian pilots would begin their training in France this summer, with the goal of having both pilots and aircraft ready by the end of the year.

Experts in the military, on the other hand, debate whether or not this timescale is feasible. Although Macron claims that the average length of time required for pilot training is between five and six months, experienced pilots contend that it might take years to achieve actual expertise.

Problems with logistics are also brought up by the decision. By the end of the year, it is possible that Fighter Group 1/2 Cigognes, the only French unit that is currently equipped with Mirage 2000-5s, would be required to be disbanded. Considering that this unit is a regular participant in NATO’s Baltic Air Policing operation, the disbanding of this unit could have an effect on France’s commitments to its partner nations.

In addition to this, the position taken by the French government is inconsistent. As recently as February, the Minister of the Armed Forces, Sébastien Lecornu, gave his assurance that the delivery of combat aircraft was not the principal request that Ukraine made to France. Instead of delivering Mirage fighters, he underlined the importance of focusing on adapting French armaments for Ukraine’s current aircraft that were manufactured during the Soviet era.

Within the announcement made by Macron, there are also plans to train and equip a brigade consisting of 4,500 Ukrainian soldiers. It is interesting to note that comparable plans for the French Army during recent budget negotiations were thought to be not feasible, yet they are now being offered to Ukraine.

Macron’s choice also has geopolitical repercussions. Macron added that France does not desire to escalate its relationship with Russia despite its intention to assist Ukraine in its resistance efforts. On the other hand, he did not completely rule out the idea that Ukraine could use these jets to strike targets within Russia. He argued that prohibiting such acts would be detrimental to Ukraine’s right to self-defense.

French President Emmanuel Macron, during the interview, allowed for the possibility that Kyiv might use the Mirage 2000-5 fighter jets, transferred by Paris, to attack targets in Russia, from where strikes on Ukraine have been launched. According to the French president, forbidding Kyiv to “neutralize these Russian capabilities” would be equivalent to saying that Ukraine “can no longer defend itself.”

He reiterated that France does not consent to the use of its weapons on civilian populations and that this would be unacceptable. According to another proposal that Macron made in May, Kyiv should be given the authority to “neutralize” Russian military targets from which missiles are launched into Ukrainian territory.

French Mirage 2000-5 – Macron’s Fighter Jet U-Turn to Bolster Ukraine’s Defenses

Providing Ukraine with several different types of combat aircraft would necessitate establishing a large number of logistical chains and training pilots and technicians, all of which take time. The Ukrainian Air Force does not have the luxury of time, which is another limitation. At the same time, Ukraine is anticipated to receive a relatively small number of F-16s in the years 2024 and 2025. Furthermore, if the Russians are successful in shooting down the F-16s faster, it is possible that Ukraine will not have any fighter aircraft remaining. It is possible for Mirage 2000-5 to fill such a void temporarily.


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