A French Air Force Mirage 2000N fighter jet caught fire and crashed just after take-off from the airport of the Chadian capital of Ndjamena on Thursday morning.
The crashed aircraft was part of Operation Barkhane, an anti-insurgent mission in the Sahel region which includes a French force of 3,000.
The plane crashed into the airport wall at 7:55 this morning, before catching fire while preparing to take off from the runway on its way to France. The two pilots on board were able to eject from the aircraft in time, one of them was slightly injured.
As a result of this incident, N’djamena airport operations were interrupted for 3 hours.
Dassault Mirage 2000N is a variant of the Mirage 2000 designed for nuclear strike. The Mirage 2000D is its conventional attack counterpart.
The Mirage 2000N forms the core of the French air-based tactical nuclear deterrent replacing the older Mirage IVP.
The fighter had strengthened wings for low-altitude operations, as well as low-level precision navigation/attack systems, built around the Dassault/Thales Antilope 5 radar, which was designed for the strike role and featured a terrain-avoidance capability.
They were intended to carry the Aerospatiale Air-Sol Moyenne Portee (ASMP) nuclear stand-off missile. The ASMP missile is 5.38 meters long with a kerosene-powered ramjet that allows it to cruise at Mach 3 to a maximum range of 100 km carrying a nuclear warhead with a yield of 300 kt.
The Mirage 2000N entered operational service in 1988 and a total of 75 were built for the French Air Force.