Dassault Mirage

TYPE: Multirole fighter

POWERPLANT: IIIE - One 41.2kN (9435lb) dry and 60.8kN (13,670lb) afterburning SNECMA Atar 9C-3 turbojet, plus optional (although rarely used) 14.7kN (3305lb) SEPR jettisonable booster rocket.

PERFORMANCE: IIIE - Max speed 2350km/h (1268kt), cruising speed at 36,100ft 955km/h (516kt). Time to 26,090ft 3min Osec. Service ceiling 55,775ft, or 75,460ft with booster rocket. Ferry range with three drop tanks 4000km (2150nm). Combat radius on a hi-lo-hi attack mission 1200km (647nm).

WEIGHTS: IIIE - Empty 7050kg (15,542lb), max takeoff 13,700kg (30,205lb).

DIMENSIONS: Wing span 8.22m (27ft Oin), length 15.03m (49ft 4in), height 4.50m (14ft 9in). Wing area 35.0m2 (376.8sq ft).

ACCOMMODATION: Pilot only, or two in tandem in IIIB and IIID.

ARMAMENT: Two 30mm DEFA 552A cannon in lower fuselage. IIIE has four underwing and one centreline hardpoints capable of carrying up to 4000kg (8818lb) of armaments, including one radar guided Matra R.350 AAM, Matra R.550 Magic or AIM-9 Sidewinder infrared guided AAMs, AS30 and AS37 ASMs, bombs and rockets.

OPERATORS: Argentina, Brazil, France, Pakistan, South Africa, Switzerland.

HISTORY: The first of Dassault's famous Mirage series of fighters to achieve production, the Mirage III enjoyed considerable export success, and propelled France to the forefront of combat aircraft design.

The Mirage name was first applied to a design to meet a 1952 French Air Force requirement for a light, high speed interceptor. The Mirage I was a small delta wing design powered by two Armstrong Siddeley Viper turbojets and first flew in June 1955. While the Mirage I was too small to be practical, test experience was invaluable for the much larger SNECMA Atar powered Mirage III. The prototype Mirage III-001 flew for the first time on November 17 1956 and later became the first western European aircraft to reach Mach 2 in level flight. Ten pre production Mirage IIIAs were built before the first Mirage IIICs were delivered to the French Air Force in July 1961. IIICs were also built for South Africa (IIICZ) and Israel (IIICJ - veterans of Israel's Middle East wars, survivors were sold to Argentina in 1982). The equivalent two seater is the IIIB.

The multirole Mirage IIIE retains the Thomson-CSF Cyrano II radar but with nav/attack avionics and Doppler navigation radar (in a bulge beneath the cockpit), while French aircraft had the ability to carry a AN52 nuclear bomb. The two seat IIID does not have the Cyrano radar. The Mirage IIIE was a significant export success, and was built under licence in Australia and Switzerland (as the IIIS with a Hughes TARAN 18 radar). The reconnaissance Mirage IIIR is based on the IIIE, but features cameras (and no radar) in a modified nose (four South African IIIR2Zs were delivered with Atar 9K-50s).

Most of France's Mirage IIIs have been retired, while most other remaining Mirage III operators have upgraded their aircraft. The radar-less, ground attack optimised Mirage 5 is described separately.


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