In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
Grande Strategy

The PAF Mirage ROSE Upgrade

06/22/2013

The Pakistani ROSE (Retrofit of Strike Element) Mirage III/V remain a major asset until the JF-17 replaces them. The Mirages have been a blessing for Pakistan, in a time when it had very few options open. Pakistani Mirages have served a wide range of roles, from nuclear delivery to recon.

They have been the only fighters to support the PN with an anti-surface capability with the Exocet.  In exercises, they have been the only fighters to defeat the vaunted F-16s in the PAF. PAF Mirages have served a wide range of other roles including air defence, with BVR R-Darter missiles to deep strike with the Mirage Vs. Most importantly, Mirages gave Pakistan the confidence to pursue, and opportunity to build, an extensive foray into combat aircraft manufacturing capability, that finally culminated in the JF-17.

It is also widely believed that the ROSE Mirages will continue to serve, along with the JF-17s post 2015. We here look back in time to consider the Mirage and its upgrade with the PAF.

The ROSE project was conceived in 1992 and begun on April 1995. PAF's main concern was to replace the A-5s that were deemed to retire in 1997. The aim was to raise two squadrons that were capable of a surface attack role, building a strike and precision strike capability. 

PAF went on a shopping trip to thus buy and rebuild secondhand Mirages and sources included Belgium, Spain, France, Lebanon and Zaire. The operational requirement was for fifty aircraft and forty aircraft were allocated funds of $120 million. PAF personnel visited Spain, France and Lebanon, among other countries and inspected 96 Mirages.

SAGEM, a French company which specializes in avionics and defense electronics, was to provide some of the equipment for upgrading the Mirages with their inertial navigation and system integration departments. However, SAGEM was looking for making more and proposed an additional forty Mirages for $150 million. 

This opportunity came as a result of PAF's enthusiasm for forty Mirage Vs and about forty Mirage IIIs of the French Air Force, which were available for sale at quite a reasonable price. The French Mirage V suited the PAF requirement because of its longer range and greater payload. PAF negotiated and the price came down eventually to $124 million and finally to $118 million by contract signing. 

The package included thirty-four Mirage Vs and six dual-seat Mirage IIIs, making a total of forty fully overhauled aircraft. Out of the forty aircraft, twenty Mirage Vs would be modernized to the ROSE-II standards. These Mirage V ROSE-II were to receive an identical upgrade to ROSE-I, with the difference being that the Grifo-M radar is replaced by FLIR. The Grifo M, somewhat of a copy of the US APG-68, provided the Mirages with a significant improvement in look-down-shoot down capability, and more controversially, the ability to carry BVR missiles.

The details of the package included engines installed on the aircraft would have a minimum life of four years and 300 hours and inclusion of ground support, alternate mission equipment, and line replaceable units. Additionally, kits were to be provided for RWR, CFD and GPS. 

The modifications were done in France since PAC Kamra was during that time frame, already busy overhauling the PAF's existing Mirages. Accepting any additional work would have unnecessarily delayed the delivery of the French Mirages to the PAF. However, SAGEM encountered problems on purchase of spares, which they needed for the timely and efficient running of their upgrade program and the company managed to get the first batch ready only by September 1998. A second batch of eight was received in 1999 while the third batch of eight came to Pakistan on 22 June 2000 and deliveries were completed by end of 2000. 

PAC Kamra, which had extensive experience in overhauling Mirages, F-6s and F-7s, was tasked with the work of overhauling and upgrading Mirages acquired from Australia to the ROSE upgrade standard. Pakistan had bought 50 Mirage IIIOs from Australia at a mere cost of $36 million. Most of these aircraft had less than 4000 flying hours on them and they were in excellent condition. 

PAC recovered forty-five aircraft and this included seven dual-seat models that were allotted to No. 5 Squadron. Of the remaining, there were thirty-two with ROSE configuration, one aircraft crashed, and another five were considered beyond recovery.

The avionics package included Inertial Navigation System, Heads Up Display, Airborne Video Tape Recording System, and self-protection systems like RWR, Chaff and Flares, essentially the same as the SAGEM upgrades. When the United States released 360 AIM-9L missiles under the Brown Amendment, the Mirages being upgraded and equipped with the Grifo-M radar were also made capable of carrying the AIM-9L missiles.  

Additional equipment include, for instance, IRCCD Forward Looking Infra Red navigation sensor for reconnaissance applications - laser rangefinder - air data sensors and computer - radar altimeter, and high capacity data transfer unit . In the French upgrade, GEC head-up display and HOTAS similar to Mirage-2000 is used.

Pakistan also acquired South African MUPSOW, a multi-purpose, surgical-strike weapon, designed to neutralize enemy targets such as airfields, bunkers and command-and-control centres at standoff ranges. Pinpoint accuracy is achieved by using an advanced navigation and terminal guidance technology. PAF also testing South African Raptor I and II precision guided munitions. PAF also uses the DART pod, which looks identical to Rafael's LITENING pod and potentially is acquired through South Africa. PAF is also believed to use the R-Darter as its BVR missile for her Mirages. Other Mirage 5F upgrades included an integrated electronic warfare suite, on-board oxygen generation system (OBOGS), and single point pressure refueling.

The final ROSE-III upgrade came for 14 more Mirage 5EF by SAGEM and included new Radar Warning Receiver (RWR);new Head-Up-Display (HUD); Forward Looking Infra-Red (FLIR) and new mission computer (Dynamics).

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