Accident Prone French Mirage 2000 Fighter Crashes Over Mali

A French Air Force Mirage 2000 lightweight single-engine fighter crashed over Mali on July 20th due to technical problems, with both pilots surviving the incident. 

The crash notably occurred on the same day as an attempt on the life of the Malian interim president, Assimi Goita. Mali, a former French colony, is considered a part of Francophone West Africa - a region over which Paris exerts a strong influence over the politics and economy of the region in what many analysts have termed a neo-colonial relationship.  

The Mirage 2000 forms the backbone of the French fighter fleet alongside the newer twin-engine Rafale but has been prone to accidents with multiple reports indicating problems with its manufacturing quality. 

The fighters operated by Taiwan in particular, one of the largest foreign users, have seen crash rates of ten percent and reports of cracks in the airframes due to poor manufacturing quality in France. Taiwan also operates indigenous and American fourth-generation fighters, both of which have had much lower crash rates. 

Taiwan is set to retire the aircraft early, and despite being its most expensive fighter it is considered the worst performer in the fleet. The Mirage 2000’s most recent crash was in 2019 when one went down in India killing its pilot. 

Despite its shortcomings, the Mirage 2000 proved much more successful on export markets than the newer Rafale, with five clients acquiring several dozen fighters each - and Egypt buying a small unit of 17 fighters but stopping follow-up orders. 

The Rafale by contrast has lost the large majority of tenders and has been acquired in small numbers by India and Qatar. Greece and Croatia have purchased the fighters second-hand at a much lower price, with Egypt being the aircraft’s only major client since it entered service in 2001.

 France has notably not offered comparable upgrade packages for the Mirage 2000 to what rivals such as the U.S. and Russia have offered for competing for aircraft such as the F-16 and MiG-29 to bring them up to a ‘4+ generation’ standard. 

The fighter’s only clients in the developed world, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Taiwan are all expected to retire the aircraft in the near future. 

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