A brief report by Tactical Report, a Gulf-based security and defence publication, has claimed that Pakistan may be in talks with Qatar for the purchase of the latter’s Dassault Mirage 2000-5s. The 12 fighters (nine single seat and three dual-seat) are due to be replaced by the Dassault Rafale in the near future.
Comment and Analysis
It is incredibly unlikely that the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) would be considering the Qatar Emiri Air Force (QEAF)’s Mirage 2000-5s. Granted, the PAF has shown interest in the Mirage 2000 platform a number of times in the past, coming close to even inking deals in the 1990s (cancelled as a direct result of corruption) and 2000s (dropped in favour of the Lockheed Martin F-16 Block-52+), but this platform is at its end.
The Mirage 2000 would always make for an excellent strike platform, thanks to its 6,300kg payload and nine weapon hardpoints. The QEAF’s Mirage 2000-5s and the United Arab Emirates (UAE)’s Mirage 2000-9s are also equipped with excellent radar and avionics suites, centered on the Thales RDY-2 radar. The Indian Air Force also operates a heavily modernized version of the Mirage 2000 (alongside Greece, Taiwan, Egypt, Peru and – for a limited period – Brazil).
Had the PAF procured the fighter, even in limited numbers, it would have been in possession of a credible platform it could freely equip, especially in terms of stand-off range weapons (e.g. cruise missiles). Granted, it would have been an expensive acquisition, and that too with relatively high operational costs, but the presence of a strike fighter with payload and range comparable to that of the F-16 – but without the limitations in terms of choice munitions – does not currently exist in the PAF fleet. In 2011, even the UAE was looking to sell its Mirage 2000-9s, and Pakistan was noted as a potential customer alongside Egypt and Iraq (which have since procured Rafales and F-16s, respectively).
However, the Mirage 2000 has been out of production since 2007, and existing aircraft can only be serviced using existing stockpiles of spare parts. It will not be long before cannibalization is the main method of operating a Mirage 2000 fleet, and such scarcity of spare parts will raise the fighter’s operating and maintenance costs.
Pakistan also lacks maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) infrastructure to service the Mirage 2000, which is a completely different platform from the legacy Mirage III/5 the PAF currently operates. To acquire the Mirage 2000 would mean to raise infrastructure for a dying fighter, a cost the PAF simply cannot afford, not without unlikely concessions (e.g. fighters sold for a fraction of the original price).
Finally, the news is merely secondary information. In matters regarding the PAF, the only authentic source of information is the PAF itself, which has made no statements in support of purchasing second-hand Mirage 2000/-5/-9s. At present, the PAF’s modernization plans center on the procurement of surplus F-16s from various sources (e.g. Jordan), the continued development and production of the JF-17 Thunder, and the long-term development of the next-generation fighter platform, which will begin replacing the F-16s and early model JF-17s.