France Retires ‘Legacy’ Mirage 2000C RDI Fighter Jets

Mirage 2000
A moment from the flypast during the retirement ceremony of the Mirage 2000C RDI. (Photo: Armée de l'Air et de l'Espace)

The older Mirage will be replaced by the Rafale, while the Mirage 2000D and 2000-5F will remain in service.

The Armée de l’Air et de l’Espace bid its farewell to the last Mirage 2000C in service during a ceremony at the Air Base 115 in Orange on June 23, 2022. The aircraft, which entered service in 1984, was the “legacy” version of the Mirage 2000, which was becoming increasingly obsolete after more than 235,000 flight hours and almost 40 years of service.

Along with the aircraft, the French Air Force also bid farewell to the Escadron de Chasse 2/5 «Île-de-France» (Fighter Squadron), which was the last unit operating the Mirage 2000C. The version in service with the EC 2/5 is the Mirage 2000C RDI, where C stands for Chasse (Fighter) and RDI stands for Radar Doppler à Impulsions (Pulse Doppler Radar), and entered service in 1988. The unit is now expected to return to the skies soon, as it will receive the Rafale in 2024 as its new fighter jet.

For the very special occasion, Orange hosted current and former pilots and maintainers who worked on the French delta-wing fighter jets. Static displays with all the aircraft currently in service have been set up for the visitors, as well as the dynamic presentations of the Patroulle de France with their Alpha Jets, the Equipe de Voltige with their Extra 330s and the Gusto Tactical Display with their Mirages. A Mirage 2000 also received a special “Mission Accomplie” (Mission Accomplished) livery.

Quel honneur !

Le meilleur des meilleurs a fait le trajet pour nous.

Katsuhiko Tokunaga 🇯🇵 à immortalisé notre livrée…

Pubblicato da Escadron de Chasse 2/5 Ile de France su Sabato 18 giugno 2022

“Today, the disbandment of the Escadron de Chasse 2/5 «Île-de-France» is accompanied by the withdrawal from service of the Mirage 2000C RDI after more than 235,000 flight hours,” said General Stéphane Mille, Chief of Staff of the French Air and Space Force. “This legendary combat aircraft will have marked the history of the largest units of the Air Force and Space”.

Entering service in 1984, the year of the 50th anniversary of the French Air Force, the aircraft has fought in many theaters, from Operation Daguet in the Persian Gulf in 1991 to Barkhane in the Sahel, from which the Mirage 2000s returned at the end of May. The Mirage 2000C RDI fighters of Orange and the EC 1/5 «Vendée» were also the protagonists of the 2005 action film “Les Chevaliers du ciel”, showing the aircraft flying over France and Djibouti to stop a terrorist plot which involved a stolen Mirage 2000.

“This aircraft has multiplied, for more than 30 years, operational engagements with success. Deployed in Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War and then in the Balkan theatre, the Mirage 2000C RDI has once again distinguished itself in recent years”, said General Mille. “Thus, on African territory, it participated in operations Epervier in Chad and Barkhane in the Sahel, demonstrating the multiplicity of its capabilities and the versatility of its pilots and mechanics.”

While the Mirage 2000C RDI has now been retired, the ground attack Mirage 2000D and the newer multirole variant Mirage 2000-5F will still continue to fly for some years. The twin seater Mirage 2000B are expected to be moved to Nancy, where they will be used to train crews for the Mirage 2000D and 2000-5F. The Mirage 2000C will keep flying for some time so they can be moved to storage, and three aircraft are also expected to take part in a flypast over Paris for Bastille Day on July 14.

About Stefano D'Urso
Stefano D'Urso is a freelance journalist and contributor to TheAviationist based in Lecce, Italy. A graduate in Industral Engineering he's also studying to achieve a Master Degree in Aerospace Engineering. Electronic Warfare, Loitering Munitions and OSINT techniques applied to the world of military operations and current conflicts are among his areas of expertise.