The Mirage 2000 first flew on 10. March,1978. It was designed to fulfill a requirement for a high flying interceptor. The Mirage 2000 strongly resembles the Mirage 3 in most respects. One visible addition to the airframe are the small
strakes attached to the air-intakes. They create vortices that energise the airflow over the wing. Dassault retained the side mounted air-intakes with the characteristic half -cones. These cones move in or out of the intakes so as to
maintain the shockwave in itīs proper postion, ahead of the first stage of the engine. In common with the Mirage 3, the Mirage 2000 also has a wide-track undercarriage. The nosewheel is steerable, in contrast to the castoring nosewheel of
the Mirage 3. The maximum speed at which the undercarriage can be extended is 195 Kts. The never-exceed speed for the undercarriage is 280 kts.
The Mirage 2000B (the two seat version) also has the same slightly stepped cockpit layout as
the older delta. The semi-monocoque airframe is constructed mostly of aluminium (no bad thing) with composites being used only for the elevators and some tail structures. The single tail configuration of the Mirage 3 is also retained. The
need for high altitude manouvrability necessitated a lightly loaded wing ie. a large wing area.
Dassault achieved this by reverting to the low mounted delta planform used on the Mirage 3 and 5.
At first glance this wasnīt a
good idea given the disadvantages of the delta. The delta planform, with itīs long wing root generates a lot of drag when the pilot manouvres the plane into a turn which reduces the energy (speed) of the plane. Also, the delta winged
Mirage 3 requires a very long runway. This is because the plane doesnīt have a seperate tailplane and elevator. The Mirage 3īs elevators actually form the trailing edge of the wing. This means that when the pilot rotates the nose, the
elevators move upward, causing a loss of lift right at the very moment itīs needed most. The only way to counter this is to accelerate to a comparatively high rotation speed, hence the long runway requirement. The tyres wear out quicker as
well. Upon landing the same rules apply. Although the delta planform generates a lot of lift at high angles of attack (alpha), maintaining a high alpha would mean scraping the rear end of the plane on the runway. Thus the landing speed is
also considerably higher than that a conventional swept wing fighter. As if that werenīt enough the delta wing design doesnīt lend itself to lift generation devices such as leading edge flaps because the change in centre of lift is not
linear. Because of these disadvantages Dassault opted for a conventional swept wing for the Mirage 3īs successor - the Mirage F1.
Dassault did actually develop a variant called the Mirage 3 NG whereby leading edge root extensions were
applied. The addition of LERXs made the nose of the plane want to pitch upward all the time(relaxed stability) which necessitated a computer controlled fly-by-wire (FBW) system which trimmed the aircraft according to the steering
commands made by the pilot. Although the FBW system conferred far better manouvrability upon the Mirage 3NG it never went into production.