Dassault is always keen to emphasize the longevity of the Mirage 2000. The airframe life has been increased to 7,500 hours and is guaranteed to 5,000 hours. It is often said that the Mirage 2000 is a completely new aircraft under the skin and bears only a superficial resemblance to the Mirage III E and 5. While this is largely true there can be no doubt that Dassault carefully analyzed the strengths and weaknesses of the older airframe and that the lessons learned were applied to the airframe of the Mirage 2000.
Reliability is another characteristic that Dassault is keen to emphasize. When the Italian Airforce issued a request for 24 combat ready fighters, Dassault responded with an offer of 28 Mirage 2000-5 planes, consisting of 22 single seaters and six two seaters. This is a good indication of the great confidence that Dassault has in the Dash-5. Indeed, Dassault emphasize that a high availability is crucial to airforces with only small fleets. As it was, Italy selected the F16 A. The Lockheed Martin offer consisted of 30 F16 A´s and an additional four airframes for spares. The Italian Request for Proposal (RfP) is an interesting departure from past procurement practices. Usually, airforces issue a RfP based on a nominal number of planes, and then pray that whatever is procured is also available on the flightline every morning (never the case).
The Mirage 2000 deep maintenance interval is 900 flight hours or three years. Dassault quote a Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF) of 6.8 hours, which is extremely good. The direct operating costs average approximately US$ 2,700 per hour (compared with US$ 3600 for the F 16C Blk50). The Dash 5 requires 10 Maintenance Man Hours/ Per Flight Hour (MMH/FH). Only the Gripen does better, with SAAB quoting 7.6 hours MTBF. The Gripen requires 12 MMH/FH although this is set to come down to 10 hours. The Gripen direct operating costs average about US$ 2,000. It must be borne in mind that the Gripen is a smaller aircraft and as such doesn´t have the load capacity of the Mirage 2000.