Translated by BabelFish
Having personally conceived a certain number of planes
since the First World War, Marcel Bloch, who adopted the patronym of
Dassault after the second world war, directed the teams of engineers
who reflect at the point the majority of the planes of first French
line since 1945. The influence of this pioneer of French
aviation, died in 1986, still remains very strong. It shows
through well in the last apparatus entered in service within the Air
Force, the Mirage 2000, a hunter multirôle with aerofoil in delta
equipped with very modern a Doppler radar to impulses, with a
sophisticated avionics and new aerodynamic elements.
Return to the formula delta
If the Mirage 2000 is a modern plane, even revolutionary on many aspects, they do not represent certain similarities with machines like Mirage III and 5, with the aerofoil in delta and of single-seat configuration and single engine. The disadvantages of the formula of the delta wings (speed of landing raised, long landing and takeoff runs and instability to the important angles of attack) could be partly compensated by the adoption of surfaces duck and an electric control device of flight. This return to the aerofoil in delta, which was made possible only by the recourse to new technologies, does not owe anything with nostalgia. This type of wing presents a certain number of advantages compared to more traditional aerofoils. A delta wing posts a greater thickness with the root, which increases its robustness and increases its internal volume available for the equipment and the tanks fuel. Moreover, it makes it possible to reduce the trail at the supersonic speeds and to decrease the wing load, with for consequence an increased maneuverability.
An aerofoil in delta is equipped with elevons, control surfaces which run on the trailing edge and which is used for the pitch control when they are directed in a synchronized way or in rolling when they are directed différentiellement. When a plane with delta wings in is pulled up, the trail increases and the bearing pressure decreases, which returns necessary use of longer tracks and increases the landing and takeoff runs. The recourse to the electric orders of flight makes it possible to make fly of the unstable planes and to reduce the clearance of the control surfaces for the same effects. The electric orders of flight are not appropriate completely for the planes with aerofoil in delta. The aircraft which are equipped with such a system are naturally unstable, i.e. their centre of gravity is located well behind center of pressure. But, if they are unbalanced, their maneuverability is improved in an impressive way. The aforementioned orders of flight are digitized in order to prevent any loss of control in the event of error of piloting. With the Mirage 2000, the Air Force was going to have for the first time a hunter equipped with electric drives.
Several foreign users of preceding models of Mirage modernized their planes by equipping them with a sophisticated avionics and surfaces duck. The firm Dassault-Bréguet itself assembled such surfaces on one of its planes, in fact the Milan Mirage, towards the end of the Sixties.
Milan inspired certainly the Israelis when they carried out Kfir, a version of Mirage 5 improved and equipped with a new engine. Kfir, as for him, pushed the Chilean ones and the Swiss ones to make assemble surfaces duck on their Mirage. Curiously, the Mirage 2000 comprises not surfaces of this kind but of simple moustache assembled on the air intake.
The development of the Mirage 2000 started in 1973, year during which the Air Force had to give up its program of fighters future (ACF) because of various budgetary constraints. The project of the Mirage 2000 was intended to ensure the succession of various types of planes in service within the Air Force, in particular of Mirage III, the F1 Mirage and the SEPECAT Jaguar. The new apparatus, which was integrated in the class Mach 2,5 to 3, was to be able to post an operational ceiling located enters 22 500 and 24 400 m. It was to be equipped with a modern avionics including a radar profiting from capacities of lighting downwards, even against objectives evolving/moving with very low attitudes. The plane was to be equipped with orders of flight and an engine with modular concept easily dismountable. It was envisaged to be able to operate starting from 1200 m length tracks in maximum loading. The project was approved on December 18, 1975, and a card program was written during March 1976.
The contract with the Air Force related to the development initially of a version of interception and air superiority, an order of five prototypes, therefore two two-seater models financed by Dassault-Bréguet, be having placed (the aforementioned prototypes were initially equipped with an engine SNECMA M53-2 of 8500 kgp). The first of these apparatuses accomplished its initial flight with Istres, March 10, 1976, between the hands of the test pilot Jean Coureau. It was then used to test the electric orders of flight and to determine the characteristics of basic flight. The second prototype taken the air in its turn on 18 September 1978, controlled by Guy Mitral-Maurouard, and was used for the shootings with the gun and the tests of armament in all the flight envelopes. It took a certain time to conclude this experimental program, and the Mirage 2000 made a first spectacular appearance with the meeting of Farnborough of 1980 (Dassault Falcon 20 modified was also used for the tests of armament). The third prototype left the ground on April 26, 1979, and the fourth, equipped with a new fillet between the wings and the fuselage, accomplished its first flight on May 12, 1980. On its side, the first two-seater taken the air on October 11 of the same year, and, little time afterwards, it was used within the framework of a program intended to define a version of export of the Mirage 2000.
The tests of the M53 engine had been led as from July 18, 1973 on a flying test bench Aérospatiale caravel, and the experiments at supersonic speed had been carried out by a F1 Mirage equipped with a new engine, which had taken the air for the first time in this configuration during December 1974. In 1980, M53-2 gone up on the prototypes were replaced by of M53-5, which were to be adopted on the initial machines of series.
Problems of radar
If the development of the cell and the engine of Mirage 2000 proceeded under good conditions, the development of the Doppler radar to impulse (RDI) which was to equip the aircraft did not go without encountering problems. Optimized for the interceptions at long distance, this equipment is equivalent to Hugues APG-63 of the McDonnell-Douglas F-15 Eagle.
Fortunately for the Air Force, a solution of replacement was found in the shape of the multimode Doppler radar (RDM), an equipment modern working of bands I and J and derived from Cyrano 500, itself resulting from Cyrano equipping the F1 Mirage. The RDM, whose range and of a hundred kilometers, is equivalent to Westinghouse APG-66 of F-16 of beginning of series; it acts of an effective radar and a great flexibility, but which is not as sophisticated as the RDI. The flight tests of the RDM were undertaken as from January 1980 on board a Vulture; they continued with Falcon 20 until June of the same year. Five months later, in November, this equipment was assembled on the third prototype of the Mirage 2000.
The difficulties of the development of the RDI had a negative effect on the unit of the program and pushed the Air Force to modify its plans of re-equipment. The 10th squadron, based with Creil and equipped with Mirage IIIC, had been selected in the beginning to be the first operational unit to take into account the Mirage 2000. Fault of having planes equipped with the RDM, the staff of the Air Force chooses to make enter in service the new apparatus within the second squadron of hunting, a formation equipped with Mirage IIIE and responsible for missions of air superiority and attack on the ground. The RDI was going to be set up on the machines of series starting from the end of the year 1986, after being tested on the first Mirage 2000B of series.
A first batch of 22 Mirage 2000 was ordered within the framework of the budget of 1980, and the plane head of series accomplished its initial flight in Bordeaux Mérignac on November 20, 1982. The first two apparatuses were delivered to the flight test centre of Brétigny-on-Barley, in the Paris area, and the third plane was taken into account by the center of military air experiments of Mount-of-Marsan (CEAM) at ends of tests and transformation of the crews. July 1, 1983, the first prototype of the Mirage 2000 was equipped with the third type of engine used on the new plane, in fact the M53-P-2, produced in order to propel the last standard appliances. The new engine was put for the first time in place on machines of series (those intended for the Indian air force) in June 1986.
In 1983 and 1984, the flying personnel and the mechanics of the squadron 1/2 Storks and those of squadron 2/2 Coast-in Or remained with the CEAM to be transformed on Mirage 2000C and Mirage 2000B. The prototypes of the new plane were known under the denomination of Mirage 2000A, even if they never carried officially this name, while the prototypes and the specimens of series of the two-seater version accepted the designation of Mirage 2000B. As for the single-seat version of series it carries those of Mirage 2000C. Approximately 150 Mirage 2000 were ordered by the Air Force, whereas the projects of initial markets related to a total ranging between 300 and 400 specimens. The wings are manufactured in Martiniac, the fuselages in Argenteuil, and the final assembly as well as the flight tests proceeds in Mérignac.
Version of attack
From the very start of 1979, Dassault Bréguet had launched out in the development of a version of attack of the Mirage 2000 intended to replace the Jaguar and Mirage IIIE in the missions of striking at low altitude: the Mirage 2000N. This alternative, which carried at the beginning the designation of 2000P (P for penetration), was renamed 2000N (N for nuclear power). It presents many similarities with the two-seater Mirage 2000B does not profit from certain reinforcements in order to be able to operate close to the ground and comprises a modern and sophisticated avionics of attack.
Dassault Bréguet Mirage 2000N is equipped with a cartographic radar Antelope Uliss 52 and with a new altimeter radar which allows automatic follow-ups of the ground speeds of about 1110 km/h, with the altitude of 60 m. The first of the two prototypes of the apparatus left the ground on February 2, 1983, and the deliveries with the tactical air force, in fact at the squadron of hunting 1/4 of the fourth squadron, started at the end of the Eighties. The Mirage 2000N will enter then in service at the rate/rhythm of a squadron per annum. The fourth squadron, based with Luxeuil, gave up its Mirage IIIE, equality and the first to take into account the new plane. The Mirage 2000N is equipped with missile ASMP (air-to-ground average carried), a supersonic machine of cruising having of a range of 100 km and a nuclear warhead of 150 kt.
Success with export
France cut a beautiful reputation of salesman of military aircrafts on the market with export. With the Mirage 2000, Dassault Bréguet gained a new success in this field, but, for extremely various reasons, this success is not with the measurement of that which marked the career of Mirage III, 5 and F1. Arising without any doubt common apparatus of a very great flexibility and of a frightening effectiveness, the Mirage 2000 too bulky, is sophisticated too much and too expensive to interest a sufficiently significant number customers in a field where the competition is very large.
The first customer with the export of the apparatus of Dassault Bréguet was Egypt and of which ordered 16 Mirage 2000EM and four Mirage 2000BM during January 1982. The four first of these planes, equipped with engine M53-P2, landed in Cairo West in June 1982. Some of its apparatuses must be assembled by the industry of Hélouan. The Latin America, which bought a number of the other Mirage conceived by Dassault, also provided a customer for the Mirage 2000: Peru indeed ordered 24 Mirage 2000P and two Mirage 2000DP in December 1982. The first two planes intended for the Peruvian air force were delivered to Mount-of-Marsan to the crews in charge of their reception on June 7, 1985. But of important problems of a financial nature have constrained the Peruvian government brought back its order to 10 Mirage 2000P and two Mirage 2000DP, to the great disappointment of the French manufacturer.
Abu Zabi, whose air force operated already on Mirage 5 and Alpha Jet, signed a market concerning the sale of 22 Mirage 2000EAD, six Mirage 2000DAD and eight Mirage 2000RAD, the latter being intended for the recognition. The 18 specimens of the second batch must equipped with detectors of radars and jammers of self-protection provided by the Italian firm Elettronica. The first European customer external of the plane is Greece, which signed a letter of intent relating to the acquisition of 36 Mirage 2000EGM and four Mirage 2000BGM, with an option on 30 other apparatuses. The Greek company Hellenic Aerospace Industry must manufacture complete planes and various elements.
India, which already acquired near France of Dassault Ouragan and Mystery, ordered 36 Mirage 2000H and four two-seater Mirage 2000TH in October 1982 in order to have hunters of air superiority able to take the changing of its Mig-21. The first Mirage 2000 Indian took the air in September 1984, but the government of India gave up, in favour of Mig-29 "the Fulcrum", whose cost is less increased, the idea to manufacture under licence forty specimens of the French plane. The interest that the Indians carry to Mirage 2000 is awaked on several occasions since, to undoubtedly encourage Soviet to accelerate their deliveries of Mig-29. France offered to India, in particular for its program LCA, certain technological compensations related to Dassault Bréguet Rafale provided this State plans to build the Mirage 2000 pennies licence. But the Indian requests in this field passed from 40 to 16 then to nine specimens.
The Mirage 2000 is a plane with the great capacities, robust, manoeuvrable, fast and well armed. Its performances and its flexibility were worth good successes with export to him, and it will remain in service until in the first years of XXIe century. Under several aspects, this apparatus one of most important is produced by the French aircraft industry since the end of the second world war. At the same time sword and shield of France, the Mirage 2000 represents an essential technological jump, it allowed itself partly the development of another important realization, Dassault Bréguet Rafale.
Invited to be employed in tasks as various as air defense and the attack, the Mirage 2000 will constitute, in the years to come, an essential element of the safety of France. It will be used in the units of first line of the Air Force until in the first years of XXIe century.