TAIPEI: Taiwan is looking at the possibility of extending the service life of a number of its Mirage 2000 fighter jets for both “strategic and risk-hedging” reasons, the Air Force Command Headquarters has said.
Taiwans’s Republic of China Air Force (ROCAF) has enlisted the help of aircraft manufacturer Dassault Aviation to help Taiwan evaluate the possibility of extending the life of nine of its Mirage 2000 two-seat fighters, the service said in a statement.
A China News Agency (CNA) report said the Air Force has budgeted NT$150 million (US$4.77 million) to commission Dassault to evaluate whether or not nine of its two-seater Mirages could continue serving Taiwan for another 20 years, with the assessment scheduled to be completed by July 2026.
It was reported that Taiwan wants to extend the service life of the two seater aircraft, known as the Mirage 2000-5Di, for both regular mission deployments and training sessions for new recruits, giving the Air Force strategic flexibility.
The upgraded and modernised combat aircraft would also act as a stopgap measure while Taiwan awaits the delivery of new combat aircraft.
Taiwan has purchased 66 new Lockheed Martin F-16Vs fighters from the United States, but deliveries have been delayed. The first two of the 66 fighters ordered were to be delivered by the end of 2023, but that has since been postponed until the third quarter of 2024.
Of the 60 Mirage-2000 fighters that began to be delivered in 1997, six have been lost over the years due to various accidents, but they still remain one of the three main fighter types in Taiwan’s ROCAF combat fleet. –cna/adj/mgm (Pix: Wikimedia)