French Mirage jets to strengthen Air Force, not turn tide in war, says Ukrainian veteran major

People look at a Mirage 2000-5 aircraft of the Taiwanese Air Force, May 23, 2024
People look at a Mirage 2000-5 aircraft of the Taiwanese Air Force, May 23, 2024

Ukrainian war veteran and reserve major Oleksiy Hetman discussed the potential impact, characteristics, training timelines, and quantities of the Mirage 2000-5 fighter jets that France plans to donate to Kyiv in an interview on Radio NV on June 7.

"These are fourth-generation aircraft. Of course, we can't say they are the most modern, but even the F-16s we are expecting are also fourth-generation, not fifth," he said.

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"A lot depends on how much they are modernized. When [French President Emmanuel] Macron says this is the fifth version... What does modernized mean? The airframe is the same, the engine is the same, maybe a little more powerful. The main thing is the electronics, the onboard radar, and the missiles the plane will use."

While Hetman believes the Mirage will strengthen Ukraine's air defense and air force, he noted it would not be a game changer.

"The F-16 is better because it can be used as an attack aircraft and a light bomber, meaning it is multifunctional, a flying platform that can be adapted for different types of combat. The Mirage is exclusively a fighter. But together, I think it will help us fight back."

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Ukraine needs "at least 100 aircraft. Twenty to thirty is not nothing, but it will not change everything," he said, expressing surprise at the speed of the transfer announced by Macron.

"We have not been able to 'learn' the F-16 for a year and a half, but we can learn the Mirage very quickly? Something doesn't add up. Macron says they will transfer and train pilots. How long will that take? A year? Then we will have it in 2025."

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On June 6, Macron promised to send some Mirage 2000 fighter jets to Ukraine and train pilots to fly them "by the end of the year," as part of a step-up in aid to help Kyiv resist Russian aggression. The number of jets was not specified.

Official details are expected during the June 7 meeting between the presidents of Ukraine and France.

The Mirage is a multi-role fighter jet that first entered service in the 1970s. The most modern version, the 2000-5, is equipped with advanced radar but has been largely replaced in the French Air Force by the more advanced Rafale.

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Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine