Amid rumors of its retirement, the Taiwanese Ministry of National Defense affirmed that the Mirage 2000 fleet operated by the Republic of China Air Force (ROCAF) remains operational.
In a briefing held on June 13, 2023, Colonel Sun Li-fang, the spokesperson for Taiwan’s military, affirmed that the Mirage 2000 fleet met the ‘availability’ or ‘mission capable’ standards issued by the ministry.
Taiwan acquired a fleet of 60 Dassault Mirage 2000-5 fighter jets in 1992. The Mirage 2000-5 is an air superiority variant of the fighter. The aircraft entered service with the ROCAF in 1997 and since then, it has represented an important component of the island’s airspace sovereignty defense.
In its 26 years of service, the fleet has registered six crashes resulting in complete loss of the aircraft, causing the death of five pilots in total.
It is worth highlighting that achieving a 10% attrition rate over a span of 26 years for a single-engine aircraft fleet represents a commendable ratio, especially given the intense level of engagement of Taiwanese fighters. The Taiwan government said that its air force activity had jumped 129% in 2020, due to the repeated and regular intrusions of Chinese military planes into the country’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ).
Yet the most recent crash, which took place on March 14, 2022, triggered a debate in the country about the safety of the Mirage 2000 and increasing operating costs due to the low availability of parts.
Sun Li-fang dismissed the rumors of decommissioning, saying that the ‘availability’ of the Mirage 2000 is not a serious problem, and the current situation can be effectively dealt with, as quoted by Taiwan’s Central News Agency (CNA).