When 12 Mirage-2000 fighter jets from the Indian Air Force (IAF) struck a major Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) camp across the LoC during the wee hours of Tuesday, many lauded the airforce's courage, while some were curious about the team's choice of aircraft.
While the IAF has many advanced fighters such as the Su-30MKI and MiG-29, it was the lightweight Mirage-2000 that was chosen to strike at the terror camps.
Mirage-2000 is not a new name to the Indians. The jets, made by the not so unfamiliar Dassault Aviation, which also manufactures the Rafale fighters, served during the 1999 Kargil war where they destroyed several enemy bunkers with laser-guided bombs as well as conventional bombs.
The fighter jets, touted as one of India's most deadly aircraft, were first commissioned in 1985. When neighbouring Pakistan was flexing its muscles with the US made F-16, India placed an order for 36 single-seater Mirage 2000 and later four more twin seaters in 1982.
To strengthen the IAF, the then UPA government placed an order of 10 more jets in 2004, increasing the number of Mirage-2000s to 50.
The killer jets use a lightweight shingle shaft engine which enables them to fly at a maximum speed of 2336 kmph. The aircraft can travel 1550 km with drop tanks at a maximum height of 59000 ft.
In 2011, the Hindustan Aeronautical Limited (HAL) signed a contract to upgrade the existing Mirage 2000 to Mirage 2000-5 Mk, increasing the jet's life span till 2030.
The jet can carry laser-guided bombs, both air-to-surface and air-to-air missiles, along with a Thomson-CSF RDY (Radar Doppler Multi-target) radar on board.
Dassault's Mirage-2000 also serves other countries including France, Egypt, UAE, Brazil, Taiwan, Greece and Peru.