Last month, just as Kiev had secured the promise of delivery of F-16 fighter-bombers, rumors of the transfer of French Mirage 2000s to the Ukrainian air force gained momentum. Notably after a message published by Xavier Tytelman, the digital editor of the weekly magazine Air & Cosmos, on X/Twitter. "Let's wait for confirmation, but I've had rumors of their presence in Ukraine for 2 weeks...", he said on August 9.
And this despite the fact that a video broadcast a few days earlier had shown Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky signing a SCALP missile [supplied by France], which featured an image associating half a Su-24 Fencer with half a Mirage 2000.
Furthermore, in March, Le Figaro, which has not since retracted its statement, claimed that Ukrainian pilots were in France for "accelerated training" to learn how to fly the Mirage 2000. "France wants to keep its options open. If one day the political decision is taken, the pilots will have to be trained", a "source close to the matter" told the daily.
For the moment, the Ukrainian air force is preparing to receive F-16s, and possibly Swedish JAS-39 Gripens. But Mirage 2000s are out of the question. At least not officially.
That said, on September 26, at a hearing of the French Minister of the Armed Forces, Sébastien Lecornu, dedicated to the latest report on French arms exports, the French deputy Julien Bayou [écologistes et apparentés] made some very surprising remarks, to the point where one might doubt their reality...
"With the 'France-Ukraine' friendship group, chaired by the excellent Benjamin Haddad [Renaissance], we went to meet Ukrainian parliamentarians as well as the Ukrainian government and presidency [...]. There's an insistent request that we've been asked to relay: the delivery of Rafales and/or Mirage 2000Ds, as well as radars to equip the Ukrainian Sukhoi and MiGs. The alternative is to supply these Rafales and Mirages to countries that have F-16s or MiG-29s, so that these F-16s and MiG-29s can be transferred to Ukraine," asserted Mr. Bayou, who went on to say that he "supports" this delivery, before asking the Minister about his position on the matter.
The only countries that were in a position to deliver MiG-29s - Poland and Slovakia - have already done so. And none of them have expressed any interest in receiving Rafales or Mirage 2000Ds in exchange. And if the F-16 donation is possible, it's because these aircraft are being replaced by F-35As in the Netherlands and Denmark. So the scenario put forward by Mr. Bayou is curious, to say the least...
In any case, Mr. Lecornu, who is due to visit Kiev on September 30, answered the MP's question without saying too much, as the hearing was open to the press. "Mirage, Rafale. I can see that parliamentarians must have talked to you about it. We're being broadcast. So, I won't say any more", he said, after assuring us that, even for Ukraine, the "withdrawal" of equipment "from the armed forces" would become "definitively the exception".
"But, quite honestly, this is not the first request the Ukrainians have made of France," Mr. Lecornu continued, however, on the subject of the potential delivery of combat aircraft. "It's a priority request for many countries. Not us," he insisted. And this "for reasons that also have to do with the format of our aircraft and the customers we have had on the export market", he added.
Also, "overall, we're under pressure from the Ukrainians on other segments. Land, artillery, ground-air defense, which will once again become a key issue for the winter, because it's not just a question of protecting the battlefield, but also civilian and energy infrastructures, as we can see that Russian strikes in depth will resume", concluded Mr. Lecornu.