October 28, 2013: Amidst delays and nervousness over delays in other fighter programmes, the IAF has breathed a sigh of relief over the successful debut flight of its first upgraded Mirage 2000 multi-role fighter at the Istres-Le Tubé air base earlier this month. The upgraded jet is only the first jet to be upgraded—the remaining 48 will be upgraded by HAL in India under a technology agreement with Dassault and Thales.
The $2.4-billion deal will give the legendary Mirages a brand new avionics and self-protection suite, a new generation Thales RDY-2 radar and new MBDA MICA air-to-air missiles under a separate contract. The contract has been adjusted down following the crash of two IAF Mirages in quick succession in 2012. Speaking of the debut flight of the upgraded IAF Mirage, Dassault Aviation said, "This crucial milestone is testament to the success of the complex modification programme implemented by Thales and Dassault Aviation to fulfill the requirements of the Indian Air Force. After the successful completion of this phase, scheduled for mid-2015, the rest of the fleet will be upgraded in India and will involve significant involvement between HAL and the Thales and Dassault Aviation teams. This triumvirate partnership represents a further feather in the cap of this illustrious programme, reinforcing the long-term cooperation built by the three organisations around the development and implementation of the cutting-edge technologies and the sharing of technical know-how and expertise."