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French Air Force retires Mirage 2000N
Flyby during Mirage 2000N retirement ceremony. © Emmanuel Huberdeau

French Air Force retires Mirage 2000N

The French Air Force has held the official retirement ceremony for the Mirage 2000N — the version of the Mirage 2000 designed to deliver the airborne component of the French nuclear deterrent.

The French Air Force has held the official retirement ceremony for the Dassault Mirage 2000N — the version of the Mirage 2000 designed to deliver the airborne component of the French nuclear deterrent. In future, this part of the nuclear deterrent mission will be performed by the Rafale.

The Mirage 2000N, which entered service in 1988, will fly its final flights this summer. The dozen remaining aircraft in 2/4 squadron « Lafayette » will be progressively retired and dismantled. Certain elements will be recycled on Mirage 2000s which remain in service in the air defence rôle.

The two-seat 2000N was specifically designed for the nuclear deterrence mission. It was equipped to fly low-level penetration flights carrying the ASMP, then ASMPA, nuclear missile. It could also carry conventional weapons, as it did in the course of multiple out-of-area operations — “Crécerelle” and “Deliberate Force” in the former Yugoslavia in 1994-95, “Harmattan” (Libya, 2011) and, more recently, “Chammal” (Middle East) and “Barkhane” (Sahel). The last Mirage 2000Ns deployed to the Sahel returned to France in April.

Four French Air Force squadrons have operated the Mirage 2000N — 1/4 “Dauphiné”, 3/4 “Limousin”, 2/3 “Champagne” and 2/4 “Lafayette”.

The departure of the Mirage 2000N marks a decisive step towards the “all-Rafale” French Strategic Forces, whose capabilities and operations will be profoundly transformed by the arrival of the multi-mission Rafale. The Strategic Forces are also modernising their in-flight refuelling tanker fleet; they are poised to welcome their first A330 MRTT Phénix tanker/transport later this year.

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