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Project ROSE (Retrofit Of Strike Element) was a programme initiated by the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) in 1992 to modernise a number of its Dassault Mirage III and Mirage 5 fighter aircraft with new avionics, some of which were supplied by European companies including SAGEM of France and FIAR (now SELEX Galileo) of Italy. Most of the aircraft were retrofitted at the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) in Kamra, Pakistan, others being upgraded in France. Further upgrades were under consideration but Project ROSE was cancelled due to a combination of high costs and ageing Mirage III/5 airframes.
33 Mirage III fighters, designated ROSE I, were upgraded to perform multiple mission types including air superiority and strike missions. 34 Mirage 5 fighters were configured to specialise in the night-time surface attack role, the first 20 designated ROSE II and the last 14 aircraft ROSE III. All ROSE-modified aircraft are expected to remain in service with the Pakistan Air Force beyond 2010, being replaced by the JF-17 multirole fighter by 2015.
Newer Mirage airframes in good condition and with low flight hours were sought from various sources to supplement the PAF's own fleet of 34 Mirage IIIEP/DP/RPs and 32 Mirage 5PA/DPAs acquired directly from France between 1967 and 1982. Mirage III/V were bought from the air forces of Australia, Lebanon, Libya and France. The ROSE project was set up to reclaim as many aircraft as possible and to upgrade them with the latest avionics and other modern systems.
The project team formed to manage the project held review meetings frequently in both Pakistan and France where problems were discussed. PAC and its technical personnel were involved with parts manufacture and quality control. PAF test pilots validated performance of the new equipment during test-flights.
On 5 July 2004 it was reported that a total of 50 Mirage III and Mirage 5 fighters (Mirage 5DE and Mirage 5D), along with 150 engines still in sealed packaging and a huge quantity of spare parts, had been bought from Libya for the PAF. Most of the ex-Libyan aircraft were to be broken up for spare parts required by the Mirage fleet already in PAF service. With this purchase, the PAF was to become the largest operator of Dassault Mirage III/Mirage 5 fighters in the world.
Mirage IIIO ROSE I
33 of the ex-Australian Dassault Mirage IIIO/D aircraft of the PAF were modified to ROSE I standard. The cockpit was modernised with a new head-up display (HUD), "hands on throttle and stick" (HOTAS) controls and new multi-function displays (MFD). New navigation systems, including an inertial navigation system and GPS system, were also installed. Defensive systems upgrades consisted of a new radar warning receiver (RWR), electronic countermeasures (ECM) suite and counter-measure dispensing system, dispensing decoy flares and chaff to confuse enemy missiles and radar.
In 1991, the PAF bought 50 Australian Mirage IIIO/D, 45 of which were refurbished and put into PAF service. The FIAR Grifo M3 radar was then to be fitted to 33 of the Mirage IIIEA/DA fighters which were procured from Australia, following on from the earlier ROSE avionics upgrade integrated by Sagem. It was stated that ROSE I fighters could easily be in service beyond 2010. In early 1999 it was stated that problems in "certain parameters - and errors in certain modes" had surfaced during flight trials of the Grifo M radar in the Mirage III, but these were later solved.
45 of the 50 Dassault Mirage III fighters received from Australia were found to be suitable for service with the PAF, 12 of them were overhauled at PAC and made operational. After being inspected, the remaining 33 were selected for upgrade under Project ROSE. In June 1998 the cockpit upgrades for the 33 Mirage III fighters was completed, including installation of multi-function displays (MFD), head-up display (HUD), HOTAS controls, radar altimeter and a Sagem nav/attack system. The Grifo M multi-mode radar was installed later in a second phase of the upgrade project.
The integration of a new Italian fire-control radar, the FIAR (now SELEX Galileo) Grifo M3, gave Mirage III ROSE I fighters the ability to fire advanced beyond visual range (BVR) radar guided air-to-air missiles. PAF's standard short range air-to-air missile at the time, the AIM-9L Sidewinder, was integrated with the Grifo M3 radar.
The Grifo M3 was developed specifically to fit the Mirage III and has been in full operation on the Mirage III since 2001. It has a power consumption of 200 W, operates in the X-band and is compatible with IR guided, semi-active and active radar guided missiles. The circular antenna has a diameter of 47 cm. The radar has over 30 different operational air-to-air/air-to-surface mission and navigation modes. Air to air modes include Single/Dual Target Track and Track While Scan. Air to surface modes include Real Beam Map, Doppler Beam Sharpening, Sea Low/High, Ground Moving Target Indicator, Ground/Sea Moving Target Track. Other optional modes include Raid Assessment, Non Cooperative Target Identification, SAR (synthetic aperture radar) and Precision Velocity Update. Low, medium and high pulse repetition frequencies reduce effects of ground clutter. Digital adaptive pulse compression technology, dual channel receiver, scanning coverage +/-60 degrees in both azimuth and elevation, air cooling, weighs less than 91 kg, MTBF (flight guaranteed) over 220 hours. Extensive ECCM (electronic counter-counter-measures) provisions and built in test equipment (BITE). IFF interrogators can also be integrated.
The PAF is currently installing in-flight refuelling probes of South African origin to the upgraded Mirage III ROSE I aircraft, stating that it is a pilot programme for the induction of aerial refuelling capability into the PAF.
Mirage 5F ROSE II
ROSE II fighters were fitted with a new SAGEM Forward-Looking Infra-Red (FLIR) system, mounted in a pod under the nose. This gave ROSE II fighters the capability to fly safely in the dark at very low level to avoid radar.
The French air force supplied a total of 40 fully overhauled Mirage 5, 34 single and 6 dual seat aircraft. Of the 40, 20 were upgraded to ROSE II standard. Their engines were overhauled for a four year and 300 hour minimum life span. This package included installation of chaff and flare dispenser, radar warning receiver and GPS navigation systems as well as all required ground support, LRU (line replaceable units) and alternate mission equipment.
Systems fitted by SAGEM included parts of the MAESTRO (Modular Avionics Enhancements System Targeted for Retrofit Operations) digital avionics package, including the SAGEM ULISS 92 INS/GPS, TRECOR terrain-matching system, UTR-90 computer, Honeywell radar altimeter. Cockpit upgrades consisted of multi-function displays, wide-angle stroke/raster HUD, HOTAS controls, SAGEM Circe 2001 mission planning system and on-board oxygen generating system (OBOGS). The cockpit was made compatible with night-vision goggles. A ventral fairing under the cockpit section of the fuselage was also fitted, containing a forward-looking infra-red (FLIR) thermal imaging sensor and laser range-finder. An integrated electronic warfare suite and single-point pressure refuelling system were also installed. Delivery of the last aircraft was scheduled for mid-1999.
Mirage 5F ROSE III
In the late 1990s, 33 Dassault Mirage 5F fighters were bought from France, 14 of them upgraded to ROSE III standard with a FLIR and other systems/modifications circa 2004. A follow-up to ROSE II, this upgrade gives an improved night-time precision strike capability to the Mirage with the addition of a new SAGEM navigation/attack avionics suite. A new PAF squadron was raised on 19 April 2007, No.27 Tactical Attack "Zarrar" Squadron, to operate the Mirage 5 ROSE III fighters and specialise in night-time surface strike missions.
Aircraft bought from Lebanon (Mirage IIIEL) were shipped to Karachi in 2002, each having around 600-1000 flying hours on their airframes, stated to be "airworthy and in good shape". These were inducted into PAF service circa 2004. In mid 2004, PAC was in the process of upgrading 14 of 33 Mirage 5F procured from France with FLIR and other modifications, to be known as ROSE III.
- Paul Lewis "Improvise and modernise" (Date published online unknown. Published in Flight International magazine on 24/02/1999) URL: http://www.flightglobal.com/articles/1999/02/24/48468/improvise-and-modernise.html Retrieved: 28 June 2009
- Khan, Air Cdre (ret.) Azfar A. (30 Nov 2009). "Turning the Old Into New". airforce-technology.com. Retrieved 12 March 2010.
- "Delivery of Libyan Mirages begins", Dawn News, URL: http://www.dawn.com/2004/07/29/top4.htm Retrieved: 19 September 2009
- Author unknown. "Pakistan buys 50 Mirage jets, spares from Libya" Dawn news URL: http://www.karachipage.com/news/Jul_04/070504.html Retrieved: 5 August 2009
- Paul Lewis, "Building a base: Pakistan builds on the capabilities of local support for combat aircraft", Flight International, published: 24 February 1999, URL: http://www.flightglobal.com/articles/1999/02/24/48539/building-a-base.html Retrieved: 25 September 2009
- "Mirage III". Retrieved 6 May 2011.
- Alan Warnes "Pakistan's Vision: Bridging The Capabilities Gap" Air Forces Monthly magazine (Magazine issue: July 2004) Page: 32 (can be viewed at URL: http://www.defencetalk.com/pictures/showphoto.php/photo/3207)
- ClubHyper.com article - Ex-RAAF Mirages in Pakistan Air Force service, by Mustafa Aziz
- Jang/Dawn newspaper article - Pakistan buys 50 Mirage jets, spares from Libya