Delay on fighter plane raises French concern

A two-year delay in the deployment of France's new Mirage 2000 combat aircraft has contributed to concern that the Air Force may not be able to defend the country in an emergency, defense officials said. Equipment problems and fuel economies, which reduced pilot training to critically low levels, have also added the apprehension. The first Mirage 2000 planes, due this year, will go into service in 1982, but with an old radar system used in the Mirage F-1 interceptor. The Mirage 2000, designed to carry a tactical nuclear weapon, needs special radar for aerial combat and air-to- ground strikes which will not be ready for another five years.

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