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DescriptionEditThe Mirage III, launched in 1958, was the result of several studies and developments during the 50 years, with the aim of producing a high-speed aircraft. The Mirage III first flew on 17 November 1956 and in 1960 became the first fighter to exceed Mach 2 in Western Europe.
The first production version was the Mirage-IIIC, which entered service in December 1961.
Was quickly released a version of attack (Mirage-IIIE) and recognition (Mirage-IIIR).
The price of the Mirage-III was kept very competitive, especially since the Dassault kept the same cell for all versions of the aircraft, but also because the most famous feature of the Mirage, the delta wing, helped o tensure a lesser cost. This low cost, allowed to put the Dassault Mirage in various countries.
- M.D.550 Mystere-Delta
- Single-seat delta-wing interceptor-fighter prototype, fitted with a delta vertical tail surface, equipped with a retractable tricycle landing gear, powered by two 980-kg (2,160-lb) thrust M.D.30 (Armstrong Siddeley Viper) turbojet engines; one built.
- Mirage I
- Revised first prototype, fitted with a swept vertical tail surface, powered by two M.D.30R turbojet engines, also fitted with a 1500-kg (3,307-lb) thrust SEPR auxiliary rocket motor.
- Mirage II
- Single-seat delta-wing interceptor-fighter prototype, larger version of the Mirage I, powered by two Turbomeca Gabizo turbojet engines; one built.
- Mirage III-001
- Prototype, powered by a 4490-kg (9,900-lb) thrust Atar 101G2 turbojet engine, also fitted with a SEPR auxiliary rocket motor; one built.
- Mirage IIIA
- Pre-production aircraft, powered by a 6.000 kg (13,228 lb) thrust Atar 9B turbojet engine, also fitted with an auxiliary rocket motor; ten built for the French Air Force.
- Mirage IIIB
- Two-seat tandem trainer aircraft, fitted with one piece canopy, also fitted with radio beacon equipment, lacks radar; 63 built (including prototype) for the French Air Force.
- Mirage IIIB-1 : Trials aircraft; five built.
- Mirage IIIB-2(RV) : Inflight refuelling training aircraft; 10 built.
- Mirage IIIBE : Two-seat training aircraft for the French Air Force, similar to the Mirage IIID; 20 built.
- Mirage IIIBJ : Export version of the Mirage IIIB for Israeli Air Force; five built.
- Mirage IIIBS : Export version of the Mirage IIIB for the Swiss Air Force; four built.
- Mirage IIIBZ : Export version of the Mirage IIIB for the South African Air Force; three built.
- Mirage IIIC
- Single-seat all-weather interceptor-fighter aircraft, equipped with a Cyrano I radar, powered by a 6000-kg (13,228-lb) thrust Atar 9B-3 turbojet engine, fitted with an auxiliary rocket motor in the rear fuselage, armed with two 30 mm cannons, plus one Matra R530 and two AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles; 95 built for the French Air Force.
- Mirage IIIC-2 : One aircraft fitted with an Atar 9K-6 turbojet engine.
- Mirage IIICJ : Export version of the Mirage IIIC for the Israeli Air Force; 72 built.
- Mirage IIICS : One evaluation and test aircraft for the Swiss Air Force; one built.
- Mirage IIICZ : Export version of the Mirage IIIC for the South African Air Force; 16 built.
- Mirage IIID
- Two-seat trainer version of the Mirage IIIE.
- Mirage IIID : Two-seat training aircraft for the RAAF. Built under licence in Australia; 16 built.
- Mirage IIIDA : Export version of the Mirage IIID for the Argentine Air Force; four built.
- Mirage IIIDBR : Export version of the Mirage IIID for the Brazilian Air Force; four built.
- Mirage IIIDRR-2 : Refurbished and updated aircraft for the Brazilian Air Force. Two ex-French aircraft sold to Brazil in 1988.
- Mirage IIIDE : Export version of the Mirage IIID for the Spanish Air Force; six built.
- Mirage IIIDL : Export version of the Mirage IIID for the Lebanese Air Force; two built.
- Mirage IIIDP : Export version of the Mirage IIID for the Pakistan Air Force; five built.
- Mirage IIIDS : Export version of the Mirage IIID for the Swiss Air Force; two built.
- Mirage IIIDV : Export version of the Mirage IIID for the Venezuelan Air Force; three built.
- Mirage IIIDZ : Export version of the Mirage IIID for the South African Air Force; three built.
- Mirage IIID2Z : Export version of the Mirage IIID for the South African Air Force, fitted with an Atar 9K-50 turbojet engine; 11 built.
- Mirage IIIE
- Single-seat all-weather fighter-bomber, strike aircraft, powered by an 60.80 kN (13,668-lb) thrust Atar 9C-3 turbojet engine, fitted with a Cyrano II radar and an avionics bay behind the cockpit, equipped with a Doppler radar and a TACAN navigation system; 183 built for the French Air Force.
- Mirage IIIEA : Export version of the Mirage IIIE for the Argentine Air Force; 17 built.
- Mirage IIIEBR : Export version of the Mirage IIIE for the Brazilian Air Force; 16 built.
- Mirage IIIEBR-2 : Refurbished and updated aircraft for the Brazilian Air Force. Four ex-French aircraft sold to Brazil in 1988.
- Mirage IIIEE : Export version of the Mirage IIIE for the Spanish Air Force; 24 built.
- Mirage IIIEL : Export version of the Mirage IIIE for the Lebanese Air Force; 10 built.
- Mirage IIIEP : Export version of the Mirage IIIE for the Pakistan Air Force; 18 built.
- Mirage IIIEV : Export version of the Mirage IIIE for the Venezuelan Air Force; seven built.
- Mirage IIIEZ : Export version of the Mirage IIIE for the South African Air Force; 17 built.
- Mirage IIIO
- Single-seat all-weather fighter-bomber aircraft for the Royal Australian Air Force. Built under licence in Australia; 100 built.
- Mirage IIIR
- Single-seat all-weather reconnaissance aircraft, fitted with five cameras and an infra-red package. 50 built for the French Air Force.
- Mirage IIIRD : Single-seat all-weather reconnaissance aircraft for the French Air Force, equipped with a Doppler navigation radar; 20 built.
- Mirage IIIRJ : Single-seat all-weather econniassance aircraft of the Israeli Air Force. Two Mirage IIICZs converted into reconnaissance aircraft.
- Mirage IIIRP : Export version of the Mirage IIIR for the Pakistan Air Force; 13 built.
- Mirage IIIRS : Export version of the Mirage IIIR for the Swiss Air Force; 18 built.
- Mirage IIIRZ : Export version of the Mirage IIIR for the South African Air Force; four built.
- Mirage IIIR2Z : Export version of the Mirage IIIR for the South African Air Force, fitted with an Atar 9K-50 turbojet engine; four built.
- Mirage IIIS
- Single-seat all-weather interceptor fighter aircraft for the Swiss Air Force, fitted with a Hughes TARAN 18 radar and fire-control system, armed with AIM-4 Falcon and Sidewinder air-to-air missiles. Built under licence in Switzerland; 36 built.
- Mirage IIIT
- One aircraft converted into an engine testbed, it was fitted with a 9000-kg (19,482-lb) SNECMA TF-106 turbofan engine.
- Mirage IIIX
- Proposed version, announced in 1982, fitted with updated avionics and fly-by-wire controls, powered by an Atar 9K-50 turbojet engine. Original designation of the Mirage 3NG.
Mirage 5/Mirage 50EditThe next major variant, the Mirage 5, grew out of a request to Dassault from the Israeli Air Force. The first Mirage 5 flew on 19 May 1967. It looked much like the Mirage III, except it had a long slender nose that extended the aircraft's length by about half a metre. The Mirage 5 itself led directly to the Israeli Nesher, either through a Mossad (Israeli intelligence) intelligence operation or through covert cooperation with AdA, depending upon which story is accepted. (See details in the Nesher article). In either case, the design gave rise to the Kfir, which can be considered a direct descendant of the Mirage III.
In 1968, Dassault, in cooperation with the Swiss, began work on a Mirage update known as the Milan ("Kite"). The main feature of the Milan was a pair of pop out foreplanes in the nose, which were referred to as "moustaches". The moustaches were intended to provide better take-off performance and low-speed control for the attack role.The three initial prototypes were converted from existing Mirage fighters and had fixed canards referred to as "moustaches". One of these prototypes was nicknamed "Asterix", after the internationally popular French cartoon character, a tough little Gallic warrior with a huge moustache.
A fully equipped prototype rebuilt from a Mirage IIIR flew in May 1970, and was powered by the uprated SNECMA Atar 09K-50 engine, with 70.6 kN (15,900 lbf) afterburning thrust, following the evaluation of an earlier model of this new series on the one-off Mirage IIIC2. The Milan also had updated avionics, including a laser designator and rangefinder in the nose. A second fully equipped prototype was produced for Swiss evaluation as the Milan S.
The canards did provide significant handling benefits, but they had drawbacks. They blocked the pilot's forward view to an extent, and set up turbulence in the engine intakes. The Milan concept was abandoned in 1972, while work continued on achieving the same goals with canards.
Mirage III fitted with canardsFollowing the development of the Mirage 50, Dassault had experimented with yet another derivative of the original Mirage series, named the Mirage 3NG (Nouvelle Génération, next generation). Like the Milan and Mirage 50, the 3NG was powered by the Atar 9K-50 engine. The prototype, a conversion of a Mirage IIIR, flew in December 1982.
The 3NG had a modified delta wing with leading-edge root extensions, plus a pair of fixed canards fitted above and behind the air intakes. The canards provided a degree of turbulent airflow over the wing to make the aircraft more unstable and so more maneuverable.Avionics were completely modernized, leveraging off the development effort for the next-generation Mirage 2000 fighter. The Mirage 3NG used a fly-by-wire system to allow control over the aircraft's instabilities, and featured an advanced nav/attack system; new multimode radar; and a laser rangefinder system. The uprated engine and aerodynamics gave the Mirage 3NG impressive performance. The type never went into production, but to an extent the 3NG was a demonstrator for various technologies that could be and were featured in upgrades to existing Mirage IIIs and Mirage Vs.
After 1989, enhancements derived from the 3NG were incorporated into Brazilian Mirage IIIEs, as well as into four ex-Armée de l'Air Mirage IIIEs that were transferred to Brazil in 1988. In 1989, Dassault offered a similar upgrade refit of ex-AdA Mirage IIIEs under the designation Mirage IIIEX, featuring canards, a fixed in-flight refueling probe, a longer nose, new avionics, and other refinements.
A total of 1,422 Mirage III/5/50 aircraft of all types were built by Dassault. There were a few unbuilt variants:
- A Mirage IIIK that was powered by a Rolls-Royce Spey turbofan was offered to the British Royal Air Force.
- The Mirage IIIM was a carrier-based variant, with catapult spool and arresting hook, for operation with the French Aéronavale.
- The Mirage IIIW was a lightweight fighter version, proposed for a US competition, with Dassault partnered with Boeing. The aircraft would have been produced by Boeing, but it lost to the Northrop F-5 Freedom Fighter.
Balzac / Mirage IIIVEdit
Main articles: Dassault Mirage IIIV and Dassault Balzac VOne of the offshoots of the Mirage III/5/50 fighter family tree was the Mirage IIIV vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) fighter. ("IIIV" is read "three-vee," not "three-five"). This aircraft featured eight small vertical lift jets straddling the main engine. The Mirage IIIV was built in response to a mid-1960s NATO specification for a VTOL strike fighter.
Mirage III ROSEEditProject ROSE (Retrofit Of Strike Element) was an upgrade programme launched by the Pakistan Air Force to upgrade old Dassault Mirage III and Mirage 5 aircraft with modern avionics. In the early 1990s the PAF procured 50 ex-Australian Mirage III fighters, 33 of which were selected after an inspection to undergo upgrades. In the first phases of Project ROSE the ex-Australian Mirage III fighters were fitted with new defensive systems and cockpits, which included new HUDs, MFDs, RWRs, HOTAS controls, radar altimeters and navigation/attack systems. They were also fitted with the FIAR Grifo M3 multi-mode radar and designated ROSE I. Around 34 Mirage 5 attack fighters also underwent upgrades designated ROSE II and ROSE III before Project ROSE was completed. The Mirage III/5 ROSE fighters are expected to remain in service with the PAF until replacement in the mid-2010s.
- Abu Dhabi (retired)
- Australia (retired 1988, 50 sold to Pakistan)
- Belgium (retired)
- Brazil 20/8 MirageIIIE/D (retired 2005)
- Chile (retired 2006)
- Colombian Air Force (retired 2010)
- France (retired)
- Israel (retired)
- Lebanon (sold to Pakistan in 2000)
- Libya (sold to Pakistan in 2004)
- Pakistan (scheduled to be replaced with JF-17 in 2015)
- Peru (retired 2007)
- South Africa (retired 2008)
- Spain (retired in 1991, sold to Pakistan in 1992)
- Switzerland (retired)
- Venezuela (retired 2007)
- Crew: 1
- Length: 15.03 m (49 ft 3½ in)
- Wingspan: 8.22 m (26 ft 11⅝ in)
- Height: 4.50 m (14 ft 9 in)
- Wing area: 34.85 m² (375 ft²)
- Empty weight: 7,050 kg (15,600 lb)
- Loaded weight: 9,600 kg (21,164 lb)
- Max. takeoff weight: 13,700 kg (30,203 lb)
- Powerplant: 1 × SNECMA Atar 09C turbojet
- Dry thrust: 41.97 kN (9,436 lbf)
- Thrust with afterburner: 60.80 kN (13,668 lbf)
- Maximum speed: Mach 2.2 (2,350 km/h, 1,268 knots, 1,460 mph) at 12,000 m (39,370 ft)
- Combat radius: 1,200 km (647 nmi, 746 mi)
- Ferry range: 4,000 km (2,152 nmi, 2,486 mi)
- Service ceiling: 17,000 m (55,775 ft)
- Rate of climb: 83 m/s+ (16,405 ft/min)
- Guns: 2× 30 mm (1.18 in) DEFA 552 cannons with 125 rounds per gun
- Rockets: 2× Matra JL-100 drop tank/rocket pack, each with 19× SNEB 68 mm rockets and 66 US gallons (250 liters) of fuel
- Missiles: 2× AIM-9 Sidewinder OR Matra R550 Magic plus 1× Matra R530,
- Bombs: 4,000 kg (8,800 lb) of payload on five external hardpoints, including a variety of bombs, reconnaissance pods or Drop tanks; French Air Force IIIEs through 1991, equipped for AN-52 nuclear bomb.
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