France is said to be buying MIRAGE 2000-9 jets from UAE, Greece and Indonesia – in order to ship them off to Ukraine. Why?
While Poland and Slovakia passed the milestone last week by announcing they will finally be sending Soviet-era MiG-29s to Ukraine, the French Ministry of the Armed Forces announced on Thursday 23 March that Ukrainian airmen are currently being trained in France learning ground-to-air defense tactics for Mirage 2000, as well as survival in hostile environments in case of ejection. Moreover, according to a recent report released by Intelligence Online, Paris plans to purchase aircraft primarily in the UAE, but also from Greece and Indonesia who were are also listed as potential suppliers in this three-way arrangement.
On March 15, 2023, the Minister of the Armed Forces of France, Sébastien Lecornu, announced before the Defense Commission of the National Assembly that French AMX-10 RC tanks had finally arrived in Ukraine. Paris had decided not to send Leclerc tanks, a decision defended by the minister because first France has only a few combat tanks about 200 operational, and secondly because France no longer produces them.
However, a more pressing question was in the mind of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky who wanted to know if France would finally deliver a dozen fighter jets to the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
The answer to this question has remained vague, but a decision appears to have been made already by Macron’s government ahead of Zelensky’s visit to Paris on February 8, 2023, to train Ukrainian soldiers on Mirage 2000 fighter planes produced by Dassault Aviation. So far, for more than a month and a half roughly thirty Ukrainian personnel have been receiving accelerated training on French fighter bombers at the air bases of Mont-de-Marsan and the city of Nancy (France). According to the Ministry of Defense, the training of the pilots themselves has not actually started, only that of “air military personnel”. Yet, many experts believe France is reluctant to admit their involvement in training Ukrainian pilots in France, but also pilots training in Poland.
The spokesman of the Air Force of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Yuriy Ihnat indicated that the French newspaper Le Figaro’s report that the training of Ukrainian pilots in France wasn’t truthful, adding that a number of partners have also offered Ukraine training sites for future pilots while France was only providing courses for air gunners, survival courses, and other supporting duties, but there is no talk of training actual pilots.
It is believed that Paris may eventually deliver a dozen planes to Kiev. This issue is not taboo for Paris, Le Figaro reported. “I don’t rule out anything at all,” Emmanuel Macron said.
The French Air Force currently has 195 fighters: 96 Rafale and 99 Mirage 2000 of various series, along with another 40 aircraft are in service with the Naval Forces. Recently, France has been gradually abandoning the Mirage in favour of the Rafale, but the Mirage 2000-C modification series is still considered a very good and capable aircraft for modern combat missions.
On March 4, 2023, Reuters reported on a declaration made by US officials in Washington regarding two Ukrainian pilots being trained in Arizona on US military flight simulators. Apparently, they were already in the United States undergoing an evaluation of their skills for possible F-16 training. CNN also added in their report that a total of ten more pilots could eventually join them.
As with Paris, Washington remained mute on whether it will send either fighter jets, or sophisticated remotely piloted drones to Kiev.
The most recent announcement made by the Minister of the Armed Forces of France was about France’s assistance with the acquisition of two GM-200 air defense radars.
THE TRAINING IN FRANCE OF THE UKRAINIAN AIR FORCES HAS STARTED
Some additional clarification was provided by French media BFMTV who released an update on the situation on March 23, 2023 confirming that the training in France of the Ukrainian air forces had started.
“We are training Ukrainian crews in France, in particular in ground-to-air defense and survival in the event that their aircraft is shot down”, detailed this Thursday the deputy delegate for information and defense communication, General Yann Gravethe, during a weekly press briefing, specifies AFP.”
According to one French Senator, France could start training Ukrainian pilots on the Mirage 2000 – not in France, but in Poland.
On Tuesday, February 28th, during a hearing in the Senate, Sébastien Lecornu, Minister of the Armed Forces, was questioned on this thorny subject and he confirmed that discussions were indeed underway with the Ukrainians.
“There would be 12 Mirage 2000-Cs currently in storage, ready to be sold. Do you plan to sell them to Ukraine or train Ukrainian pilots?” asked French Senator Philippe Folliot.
French Senator Joëlle Garriaud-Maylam supported this question with another more specific one:
“Is it true that our Air Force is ready to train Ukrainian pilots in Warsaw? This is information that was given to me, I would like to be able to verify it,” she asked.
Interestingly, Minister Sébastien Lecornu confirmed neither the dispatch of planes nor the training of pilots, before eventually dodging any further questions and refocusing the debate on the urgency of sending ammunition to the beleaguered Ukrainian forces.
Such behaviour is highly suspicious and from a military strategic communications point of view, two possible scenarios could be at play here:
1. NATO is parading these pilots to have the Russians and the rest of the world believe that it will be Ukrainian pilots in the cockpit, when in fact NATO pilots or others would be flying the actual missions.
2. France doesn’t want to be seen as training Ukrainian pilots in case such pilots decide outside of the NATO framework to venture into Russian air space and strike targets on Russian ground which would create a major international and diplomatic incident blamed solely on France.
Using NATO pilots to fly missions flagged by other countries is not a new practice, and may have already been practiced in the Yemen war with western pilots flying Saudi sorties, after various Saudi pilots failed to meet basic combat training standards set by the Pentagon.
Either way, training Ukrainian air force ground personnel in the art of maintenance of these highly sophisticated MIRAGE 2000 fighter jets is, in itself, an indication that France is very likely training these Ukrainian pilots at least on simulators for now.
Could these jet fighters from France be delivered to Ukraine? The answer is based on three principles posed by Emmanuel Macron for the transfer of arms to Ukraine:
1. There must be a need expressed by the Ukrainians
2. That it be non-escalatory and…
3. That it does not weaken France’s national defense capacities
According to a report by French media outlet IntelligenceOnline (I.O.), the outlet BulgarianMilitary.com had received information confirming that early this year, French President Emmanuel Macron had ordered the Ministry of Defense of France to issue an assessment regarding the possible provision of fighter jets to Ukraine. Official Paris confirmed that Kiev sent a request for the delivery of combat aircraft.
According to the I.O. report, the first batch will be purchased in the UAE. France actually wants to supply Ukraine with a total of 40 of its Mirage 2000-9 jets, adding that:
“After a lengthy negotiation process that has weighed several weeks on arms brokers working for Kyiv, Ukraine hopes to receive about forty Mirage aircraft.”
According to the publication, Paris plans to purchase aircraft primarily from the UAE. Greece and Indonesia are also listed as potential suppliers.
After the tanks, Ukraine rapidly called on France to supply them with fighter jets whilst the United States and Germany still refused to supply them, likely due to previous statements concerning the supply of fighter jets as being regarded as an overt escalation of the conflict.
For Paris, this is more about business than about providing Kiev with any real military edge. Back in February of 2022, it was already widely known that the UAE was keen to replace its fleet of 40 year-old Dassault Mirage 2000-9’s in order to take delivery of a new crop of 80 cutting-edge Dassault Rafale F4’s it had ordered from France in 2021. The Rafales won’t be delivered until later this decade, so this naturally led to speculation as to where the Mirage 2000-9 fighters would ultimately end up.
It is disturbing, to say the least, that France did not forbid, but instead entertain such possibilities, while Poland and Slovakia, pledged the first tranche of MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine, with Poland committing to sending 4 Soviet-made aircraft, while Slovakia will send 13.
The other obvious implication here, is that NATO is likely amassing a combined Air Force in Poland, and will likely be houseing any “Ukrainian” fighter jets there, and if they attempt to launch any air sorties or try to enforce a No Fly Zone, or humanitarian “Safe Zone” over Lviv and western Ukraine – then it only stands to reason that any such operations will be run and serviced out of Poland – because any jets housed in Ukraine proper will likely be liquidated by Russian missile strikes once they are located and identified.
The situation is highly volatile and confirms once more NATO’s clear lack of interest in any peaceful resolution to the Ukraine-Russia conflict that’s been raging now for over 13 months.
As NATO continues to fight Russia down to the last Ukrainian…