- Nov 12, 2022
TAIPEI, TAIWAN — Four Mirage 2000 fighter jets shot down four F-16 Fighting Falcons in a simulated dogfight. This is what Taiwanese journalist Lu Jiongchang wrote for the local online portal NOWnews on YahooNews on January 11, 2023.
The reporter said that he went on January 11th to gather information about the Dragon Exercise, a traditional military exercise held in Taiwan in November. Various awards such as King of Air Combat, King of Gunnery, and King of Aircrew Bomber are awarded to this exercise.
The training is important to Taiwan as it reveals the capabilities of the Taiwan Air Force combat capability to counter foreign threats. Lu Jiongchang meets with the 2022 Air Combat King-Mission Leader title winner Lt. Col. Zhuang Weibo. Lt. Col Weibo is a member of the 42nd Combat Team of the Taiwan Air Force.
During the simulated air battles, Taiwan’s military headquarters decided to include the 2nd Wing of the Taiwanese Air Force and their Mirage 2000 fighters. Thus, four Mirage 2000s would have to face four F-16 Fighting Falcons.
It is interesting to note that the Taiwan Army HQ gives the role of “Chinese Invader” or “China’s First Army” to the four F-16s. Thus, four Mirage 2000 fighters were sent against the Red Army. “With good training and tacit cooperation, all 4 F-16s were shot down and one of the Mirage 2000 fighters were shot down, resulting in a 4:1 fighter,” said Lt. Col. Weibo.
The Taiwanese Air Force has 45 units of French Mirage 2000 fighters. They were bought in the late 1980s, and the first batch of Mirage 2000s arrived in Taiwan in 1996. The Taiwanese Air Force at the time operated F-104 and F-5E/F multirole fighter jets, but they were aging and a replacement was needed.
So Taiwan bought a Mirage 2000-5 fighter jet equipped with an RDY radar. The RDY radar has various ground/air combat modes, can simultaneously track 8 targets, and fire 4 medium-range mica [MICA] rockets air at once. Thus, in the 1990s, the Mirage 2000-5 was the most powerful fighter in the composition of the Taiwanese Air Force, surpassing many times the American F-5E/F and the local F-CK-1 Ching-kuo multirole fighter jet.
Taiwan’s Mirage 2000-5s, however, prove to have much higher maintenance costs compared to both the indigenous F-CK-1 Ching-kuo fighter and the American F-16. Then Taiwan, having already purchased an F-16 fighter from the US later, decided to upgrade precisely the American and locally produced fighter. The Mirage 2000 became the only three major Air Force fighters not to be modernized.