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French Mirage 2000D crashes in Niger

It does not happen very often, but France suffered a jet fighter loss as a French Mirage fighter jet has crashed in Niger on its return from a mission in Mali. The crew of two suffered no injuries, according to the French military. The Mirage 2000D crashed half way between Gao in the restive north of Mali and the Niger capital Niamey, where France has a military base. “The crew was forced to eject following a technical failure,” said French military spokesperson Gilles Jaron. “The pilot and navigator were retrieved safe and sound.” France confirmed on Tuesday that an air force Mirage jet crashed over Niger in Central Africa but both pilots survived after bailing out. The Defence Ministry’s information office said that the plane suffered a technical fault while on a patrol mission over Mali. The plane, worth several millions euros, is one of six fighter jets being used by the French army in the region. The Mirage 2000-D fighter-bomber, which was returning to base in Niger, is one of the most sophisticated in the French Air Force and second only to the high-tech Rafale, which is currently being offered to a number of countries, mainly India, the UAE and several other Gulf nations. France has several thousand troops deployed in the Central African Republic and the Sahel region, notably in Mali, Central African Republic, Chad and some in Niger to protect French mining interests. French troops were sent to Mali in January 2013 after an alliance of Tuareg separatists and Islamists took control of the north. Defence Minister Jeran-Yves Le Drian last month announced that France will deploy 3,000 troops in the region to fight Islamist and other armed groups.

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