French Private Company ARES Buys Qatar’s Mirage 2000-5 Fighters
Using private companies to mimic aerial conflict (Red Air) air training is widespread. The USAF has carried them out regularly for decades. A commercial firm was granted the United States Air Force a contract of $6.4 billion for adversary training. Similarly, European air forces began to require greater combat training than could be provided by their own pilots.The European Defence Agency evaluated the European air forces’ needs at around 22,000 flight hours over five years, a potential market of €300 million.Les Echos reported that the Mirage 2000-5 would be used for training and serve as enemy aircraft in exercises. The company was established to provide advanced air training. The red symbolises the aggressor, and blue is the defender according to NATO regulations. Consequently, ARES was hired by the French Navy (Marine Nationale) to provide 600 training hours per year for the next six years. The various tasks include air-to-ground and air-to-surface attack simulations, target towing and acting as aggressors during aerial combat training. The company might serve for the training of Greek and Croatian pilots in future.Qatar purchased 12 Mirage 2000-5s in 1994 to replace the Mirage F1EDA fleet. The aircraft purchased consisted of nine single-seat variants and three tandem-seat variants. The first aircraft was delivered in 1997. QEAF has retired the Mirage 2000-5 fleet as the country acquired 36 Rafales through contracts in 2015 and 2017.