End of an Era: The Mirage 2000B 501’s Final Days

With a history of significant contributions to the development of the 's weapon system, the Mirage 2000B 501 test is ready to hang up its wings after years dedicated to service.

Renowned for playing a pivotal role in the development of the Rafale's critical systems such as its active antenna radar and frontal sector optronic systems, the Mirage 2000B 501 boasts an impressive record. This was the first of 33 Mirage 2000Bs produced, and despite never seeing use by the Air Force, was immediately dedicated to flight testing under the General Directorate of Armaments.

Mirage 2000B 501 at the Bourget Air and Space Show

The aircraft's impact on the industry was so profound that it was featured at the most recent Bourget Air and Space Show, attracting attendees from across the globe.

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Successful Adaptation for Rafale Testing

Beginning in the early 1990s, the Mirage 2000B 501 undertook significant transformations to serve as a test aircraft for the Rafale. This required major modifications such as the addition of a Rafale-style nose cone and an increase in its electrical power.

The Directorate General of Armaments’ Fleet

A unique feature in the Directorate General of Armaments' fleet is another test aircraft, the Fokker “ABE NG”, which sports a conical nose similar to the Rafale's.

The Future: Rafale F5

  • As per the Programming Law 2024-30, plans are afoot for the development of a Rafale F5. This version will be a substantial departure from the Rafales currently in service.
  • The Rafale F5 will need enhanced information-processing and connectivity capabilities to meet the demands of the new era.

The Need for a Dedicated Rafale

Recognizing the changing landscape, the Directorate General of Armaments in 2019 voiced the need for a Rafale dedicated to its missions.

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Replacements in the Pipeline

Waiting in the wings is the Rafale “ABE”, geared up to take over from the Mirage 2000B 501 in 2026.

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