New Delhi: Fighter aircraft Mirage-2000 of the Indian Air Force (IAF) has once again proved its mettle by bombarding Jaish-e-Mohammed's terror camps in Pakistan. Even after 20-years of playing a decisive role in the Kargil War, Mirage-2000 is undoubtedly one of the most versatile and deadliest aircraft of the IAF.

The fighter jet was first commissioned in 1985. Besides the Jaguar, the Mirage-2000 is the only other IAF plane capable of delivering nuclear bombs.

The French private company Dassault Aviation manufactures Mirage-2000. It may be noted that Dassault will be delivering their modern jet Rafale to India shortly.

The fighter jet was seen in action in Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and more.

The Mirage-2000 is a single-engine delta-wing (triangle shaped) fighter jet. It can carry an impressive 14,000 lb (pounds) of weapons. A pound is equal to 0.454 kg.

It has a maximum speed of Mach 2.2 (2.2 times the speed of sound) and a combat range of nearly 1,000 miles.

It has nine pylons on which it can carry a host of different advanced air-to-air, air-to-surface missiles and bombs, targeting pods, and external fuel tanks.

Mirage-2000 to India

Back in 1982, India ordered 40 of these jets from France. It was in response to Pakistan's purchase of F-16 fighter jets back then. With transfer of technology, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited got the license to manufacture another 110 of the aircraft. But this idea was dropped after India bought the MiG-29 from the Soviet Union.

In 1986 and in 2004, India placed orders for 10 more Mirage-2000s, each.

Pre-IPKF operation

Before India sent its peace-keeping force to Sri Lanka, an Air India cargo plane was despatched for humanitarian aid to Tamils of that country. To ensure the plane is not attacked by Sri Lankan defence forces, four Mirage-2000s escorted the cargo aircraft.

Kargil hero 

In 1999, Mirage-2000s became the IAF's lead fighter in targeting Pakistani intruders in the mountainous Kargil region.

Armed with laser-guided bombs, Mirage destroyed critical enemy positions at Tiger Hill and the major re-supply base in Batalik.

Mirage-2000 was crucial during the Kargil War because of the decision of the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government not to enter Pakistani air space while clearing the Kargil heights. These French fighters were the only jets the IAF had at that point of time that had a small turning radius, allowing the IAF pilots to bomb the hideouts of Pakistan Army-backed mujahideen and make a sharp turn back to the base without violating Pakistani air space.

The IAF was very impressed with its performance during the Kargil conflict and sought to induct another 126 Mirage-2000s in its inventory.