French Air Force bids farewell to Mirage 2000C

French farewell Mirage 2000C
Two FAF Mirage 2000C jets assigned to "Team Gusto" perform a flying display above Orange-Caritat (BA 115) Air Base during the farewell ceremony for the iconic fighter aircraft.

The French Air and Space Force recently closed a major chapter in its history when it said goodbye to the iconic Mirage 2000C combat aircraft. The "Made in France" fighter was officially decommissioned in a ceremony at Orange-Caritat (BA 115) Air Base on June 23, 2022.

The "legacy" variant of the Mirage 2000 has safeguarded French airspace for nearly 40 years, logging over 235,000 flight hours. It was regarded as one of Europe's most powerful air defense fighters.

Together with the aircraft, the Service has also temporarily decommissioned the Escadron de Chasse 2/5 (EC 2/5), also known as Ile de France, which is currently the last user of the type. It will be reactivated in 2024 equipped with modern Dassault Rafale jets.

To mark the demise of the "legendary aircraft", an EC 2/5 Mirage 2000C received a special black-silver color scheme with "Mission Accomplished" labels on the traditional delta wing. It was unveiled during an "Elephant Walk" at BA 115 earlier this month.

The EC 2/5 jets performed missions as part of France's air defense network in addition to training exercises and maintained a round-the-clock quick reaction alert (QRA) role until the very end. The last such sortie, to defend France’s southeastern airspace, took place on June 9.

During its 38 years of service, the Mirage 2000C participated in several military operations abroad, including the Desert Shield and Desert Storm in 1990-1991 where it undertook escort missions for attack and reconnaissance packages over Kuwait and southern Iraq, before making its combat debut during combat air patrols over Saudi Arabia.

While the Mirage 2000C 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.

Written by Matteo Sanzani
Images: French Air and Space Force

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