France will transfer Mirage-2000 fighter jets to Ukraine

Mirage-2000 fighter jet

President Emmanuel Macron announced that France will transfer Mirage-2000 fighter jets to Ukraine and train their Ukrainian pilots as part of a new military cooperation with Kyiv as it fights the Russian invasion.

“Tomorrow we will launch a new cooperation and announce the transfer of Mirage 2000-5” fighter jets to Ukraine made by French manufacturer Dassault and train their Ukrainian pilots in France, Macron told French TV.

Macron said he would offer Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky when the two meet for talks at the Elysee Palace in Paris on Friday that the pilots be trained from this summer.

“You need normally between five-six months. So by the end of the year there will be pilots. The pilots will be trained in France,” he said.

“As of tomorrow, we will launch a pilot training and transfer program for these aircraft with the aim [of completing their training] by the end of the year,” Macron explained, adding that 4,500 Ukrainian infantry soldiers would also be trained and equipped by France.

“In no case are we at war with Russia and its people,” Macron added, emphasizing that the support is designed to help Ukraine protect its territory and airspace. The exact number of aircraft being transferred or their origin was not disclosed.

The Mirage 2000 is a fighter jet developed by Dassault Aviation in the 1970s. The 2000-5 is an air superiority variant of the aircraft.

Two French squadrons are still operating the Mirage 2000-5, which should eventually be phased out and replaced by Rafale fighters. These aircraft are regularly deployed to the Baltic states as part of the NATO Baltic Air Policing mission, meant to protect the three countries from aerial incursions and provide support in case of air emergencies since these nations have no airborne capability of their own.  

In his D-Day address, Macron also reemphasized that Ukraine has the right to strike back at Russian positions from which attacks are launched.

“If we say to the Ukrainians: ‘you cannot neutralize these Russian capabilities,’ then we tell them you can no longer defend yourself,” the French president explained.

Macron open to Ukraine using French missiles to strike Russian military targets

Doubt had long hovered over France’s transfer of Mirage 2000s to Ukraine. On March 22, 2023, the daily newspaper Le Figaro stated that around 30 Ukrainian air crewmembers were receiving accelerated training to operate Mirage 2000s. However, the French Ministry of Armed Forces denied the claims.

On September 3, 2023, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Macron agreed to train Ukrainian pilots in France. Pilots chosen to fly the F-16 will travel to France and receive advanced training flying the Alpha Jet jet trainer. Advanced training is the last stage before receiving basic training on the F-16, also known as B-Course.

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