Revisiting the M-2000C in 2022

I like to revisit DCS World modules and review them again after a long time has past. These aircraft are rarely fixed in one place as developers revisit them again and again developing them to a higher standard each time. This time I want to take my recent experiences in RAZBAM’s M-2000C and look at where this jet is versus when I first started flying it back in 2017.

A very good interceptor

Dassault’s Mirage 2000 design came about after a protracted design process on other more expensive Dassault fighter designs came to an end. Instead, the flexible, cheaper, and lightweight Delta 2000, then renamed Mirage 2000 came into being. The design proved a success and spawned a half dozen different variations including a dedicated nuclear strike variant, a multi-role ground attacker, and the interceptor C variant that RAZBAM chose to represent in DCS.

Powered by a SNECMA M53-P2 afterburning turbofan engine and designed intentionally to be aerodynamically unstable, the Mirage 2000C is both highly maneuverable as well as very fast. It can reach Mach 2.2 at high altitudes and can do 600 knots at sea level.

At the time of its introduction, it’s advanced radar with look down, shoot down capabilities was considered an impressive feat. Compared to the F-16A that was just entering service around the same time, the Mirage 2000C proved to be the superior aircraft with better radar, radar guided missiles, and an integrated ECM suite. The F-16 would see significant upgrades while the 2000C soldiered on with more minimal updates.

France is now planning to retire their active service 2000C models although other versions are expected to continue in service for at least another decade. The Mirage 2000C has also had its share of movie appearances including Les Chevaliers du ciel (or ‘Sky Fighters’).

Within the DCS community, the jet is referred to more colloquially (and somewhat stereo-typically) as the “Baguette.” And yes, there is a community files skin that exists that paints the M-2000C this way.

Continuous development

RAZBAM has continued to develop the M-2000C for DCS World since its introduction and that includes plenty of visual updates. Some of the biggest changes have happened over the last couple of years as a partnership with the Armée de l’air has opened up the door to access to better materials and a desire for increased accuracy. We’ve heard that pilots even train on DCS’s M-2000C module to get some team training in which is a very cool bit of information for those of us who are just flying these for fun.

Compare this screenshot that I took of the cockpit in 2017 and one that I took recently.

The cockpit in the M-2000C has been given an impressive overhaul with both geometry and textures changing. Equipment has changed too with a new NVG holder rack on the top left, a RWR/EO panel on the right, and a new more functional and more modern radio. Nearly all of this was thanks to collaborations with Armée de l’air.

There are some switches and buttons that betray their earlier origins. Some still have a polygonal appearance which puts it at a step or two lower than what we’ve seen with some of the latest cockpits. That aside, I have to say that it visually is keeping up very well, and for the most part the overall impression of the cockpit is excellent.

HUD and VTD (radar) displays are also sharper and easier to read than I remember them being before too. The radar display in particular also has that primitive LCD screen look that is hard to read unless straight on – its not overly troublesome to deal with but I like that it adds a bit of an aged technology touch to the jet.

The external model and textures haven’t been touched all that much and they really did not need to because the M-2000C’s exterior model was excellent on the first day that I looked at it. I’m not aware of any major changes there and its aged remarkably well. Even on close examination you’d be hard pressed to find a detail that wasn’t very highly detailed. RAZBAM did do some work on the afterburner animation which looks suitably impressive these days and fits right in with all of the other DCS World jets in 2.7.

Systems par excellence

I mentioned earlier that the cockpit was overhauled with new textures and details thanks to RAZBAM’s connections with Armée de l’air. That update wasn’t just skin deep as the jet has seen a fairly significant overhaul to the systems as well.

Compared to the jet I was flying in 2017, there are more HOTAS controls (one that lets you quickly switch to guns and Magic missiles), much revised HUD symbology, updates to the PCA weapons control panel, and one of the radios has been yanked out in favour of a more modern one instead. Frankly, of all of the updates, its the radio and the updated HOTAS controls that have made my life easier while flying the jet.

The Matra Durandal anti-runway bomb was also recently added to the array of weapons on the M-2000C. That came in just in the last several months and it’s a very interesting weapon with a drag chute to deploy the initial charge followed by a rocket assisted warhead that ploughs its way into the runway. It sounds as awesome as it looks! Although the utility of using this in the average DCS World scenario does remain mixed, I still love using it!

Cratering a runway with the Matra Durandal.

Just weeks ago we also saw updates to the Matra R530 missiles updating their performance and adding new more accurate and more capable missile logic that has given the missile a slightly longer range and a better probability of intercept than previously. Although it is a relatively short-range missile (compared to say the AIM-7), its speed and warhead do make it an interesting option in BVR fights and Mirage pilots, if they play their cards right, can compete reasonably well with contemporary opponents.

The radar has also seen significant overhauls since the early days. It now has air-to-ground mapping capabilities which can let you pinpoint targets and avoid terrain in low visibility situations. It also realistically shows off ghost contacts and reflections that require some interpretation and occasionally some systems management by the pilot to get the correct return. This puts it a little behind the F/A-18 and F-16 in some situations but once locked up I find its just as capable of keeping you aware of what the target is doing.

Flying and combat

One of the things that I don’t think has changed all that much, nor something that really needed to, is the flight model. It may have been tweaked over the years but it does feel essentially the same and that’s to say that it’s quite a good feeling jet that’s fairly simple to fly thanks to a capable fly-by-wire system.

Fly-by-wire is great but it doesn’t mean that you can’t make all kinds of mistakes. Flying the Mirage 2000 is, as it turns out, an interesting challenge. It is fast, very fast, and it accelerates well meaning you can end up faster than you anticipated very quickly. But it’s also a delta wing aircraft with some impressive agility traits and that means that it can point its nose in a one circle fight like few other aircraft can. Even the mighty Hornet has much to fear from the Mirage in a close-in fight.

Manage it wrong, however, and that delta wing acts like an air brake, dropping your speed and cancelling those superb turning abilities. You can find yourself going from too fast to dropping like a stone if you play your cards the wrong way with this jet. That’s where a lot of the challenge come in to flying it.

I’ve also found that speed drops off on landing which can make for a challenging end to a mission if you don’t very carefully manage both speed and descent rate. I’ve broken the gear a few times since returning to it. Humoursly, that’s been a problem I’ve experienced since my first forays with the jet back in 2017 as well. I’ve come so far but maybe not as far as I think sometimes!

I’ve already talked about the weapons from a systems point of view, but I want to touch on the overall usage of them and the jet. First, the 2000C is a purpose-built interceptor and it is optimized for the air-to-air role. So the primary configuration of the M-2000C and the way that you’ll likely fly the jet in most scenarios is with a pair of Magic II IR missiles (roughly equivalent to an AIM-9M), a pair of Matra R530 missiles (roughly equivalent to the AIM-7 Sparrow), and a fuel tank. There are of course other options but this is going to be very common.

The Magic II is an excellent missile that is highly capable. The R530 is, in its own way, also an excellent missile but it has a relatively short range that can just barely be considered BVR, and it is of course a semi-active missile so its utility in a fight is lower than the more modern active radar missiles like the AIM-120, SD-10 and R-77. The French equivalent, the MICA, is only available on more modern Mirage 2000 fighters so you have to make due with what is available.

The 2000C does have a ground attack option that includes rockets, high drag bombs, and even GBU-12 laser guided bombs. On that last one, the GBU-12, you’ll need a JTAC or a buddy lase for support as the M-2000C has no targeting pod or self lasing capability itself. There’s also the Belouga cluster bombs for taking out large groups of soft targets and the Durandal which I mentioned earlier. At present, these last two are unique to the jet and quite useful in their specific use.

I did find the M-2000C to be useful in a complex multiplayer environment but it does have some limitations. Compared to the F/A-18, F-16 and F-14, the M-2000C has a shorter range radar, much shorter range weapons, and it lacks the situational awareness that those three jets can generate with their impressive datalink displays. The M-2000C does have a limited datalink capability but it doesn’t give the kind of picture that you get with those other jets. In a BVR fight, the M-2000C is limited but get in close and this is a terror of the skies.

Gameplay

Although I spent nearly all of my recent time in the M-2000C on multiplayer servers or flying some of the included quick missions, the M-2000C does have a sizeable collection of single player experiences available too.

Mission designer Baltic Dragon, well known and well regarded as a master mission maker, has provided plenty of content for the jet. Two campaigns are available bundled with the jet including the bundled 13-mission Caucasus campaign, 3-mission Coup d’Etat, as well as the M-2000C Red Flag campaign which is available in the Eagle Dynamics store. Other missions are no doubt out there as well.

There are a selection of 10 training missions, also created by Baltic Dragon, that have been updated fairly recently. I did not have a look at them so I can’t vouch for if they are fully up to date with the latest changes or no.

Sounds

One of the weakest areas of the experience with the M-2000C back in 2017 was the sounds. They have definitely improved but it is still a weak point for this jet. Let me start with the positives. A lot of the switch and button sounds that were in place before are all gone and they have been replaced with much better, chunkier sounding switches and button presses. A big thumbs up on that part as flipping switches can be very satisfying when they sound like this.

The in-flight sounds are also generally the same or better than before too. The hum of the cockpit as you’re blasting along at Mach 1.0 sounds good and I’m satisfied with that. But there are some areas that could stand to be improved and most of them are on the start-up.

For example, the jet starts up and the engine begins to spool and then it just goes quiet. There’s a faint jet sound being played but the start sound cuts off so quickly that it just feels wrong to me. It makes me look at the RPM needle extra hard every time just to be sure that it’s doing what it’s supposed to be doing.

The exterior sounds are also a little inadequate compared to some of the other modules that are out there now. It’s a decent enough sound but when compared to some airshow videos of Mirage 2000s taxing and flying past, I have to say that it’s not kept up with several other DCS aircraft. Is it a big deal? No, not really. But definitely an area where the jet’s soundscape could be improved.

All in all there is forward movement here and a bit more that could be done. It’s definitely not yet on the Heatblur level of sound detail but that is the gold standard and this is a silver in most cases and a bronze in a few others.

Final thoughts

The biggest problem with the M-2000C is not with the jet but with me. I regret not flying this jet over the last couple of years. I avoided it partially because it seemed like it was in so much flux that it would be hard to relearn how to fly and fight. In retrospect, however, although many details have changed, many other core fundamentals are still in place. At the heart of the Mirage 2000C is a very fun jet to fly with great performance, good systems modeling, a decent array of weapons, and a good amount of personality. It’s not as competitive as stalwarts like the F-16 or F/A-18 but that doesn’t make it any less fun to fly.

When the M-2000C came out, it was one of the very first DCS World modules released by a third party. The sim was a very different sim at the time and so a lot of what this module has done was lead the way with all of the trials and tribulations that come with that process.

RAZBAM has taken criticism surrounding most of their modules and how they have approached their long term development goals. They deserve the critique, however, I have to give kudos where they are deserved and there are many here. RAZBAM have continuously upgraded the M-2000C over the years, even if the pace has felt slow at times. The DCS: M-2000C that you can buy today in 2022 is not an entirely new project but it almost feels like one especially if you do what I did and have spent a long time away.

The M-2000C will always be a little bit special to me as it was my first full fidelity module. I wasn’t able to get as much out of the jet in those early days as I am now but I am grateful for the experiences it was able to give me both now and then. I’ve really had a lot of fun re-learning this aircraft and at the end of the day, that’s what matters. Tres bien!

7 Comments Add yours

  1. Jonathon Coughlin says:

    I need to buy it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      I think you’d enjoy it!

      Like

  2. TAIPAN_ says:

    Magic Missile hey, brings back memories of the Mage Level 1 spell 😉 probably a bit more powerful

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      Haha! Different kind of Magic and definitely a little more potent in my experience 😉

      Like

  3. Gasma says:

    Great write up on an excellent DCS module. I loved the Mirage from day one and it’s well worth visiting the oldies as they truly stand the test of time – especially as devs continue to work on them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      Thanks Gasma! Yeah this is a great jet and I’m really happy to have spent the time to re-learn it.

      I’m planning on revisiting a few aircraft this year. The next one in the pipeline is the MiG-21bis. Not sure what I’ll do after that.

      Like

  4. Nicholas Mew says:

    Beside the Eurofighter and the JF-17, the Mirage 2000 would be the only BlueFor esque fighters I would pick up if I were to get into DCS.

    They have a different and interesting history and character compared to the Teen Series of sighted which are so generic in DCS.

    Probably helps that I can be a bit contrarian in some aspects. Now if only someone could gather enough material for a comparable RedFor fighter….

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s