Dassault Mirage F1
From Scramble - The Aviation Magazine
|Dassault Mirage F1CR-200|
|First Flight||23 December 1966|
|Entered Service||1 October 1973 (Mirage F1C)|
|Maximum takeoff weight||kg||lb|
|Capacity||Seven external store station, max load 4,000 kg|
|Engines||one Snecma Atar 9K-50|
|Thrust||70.7 kN (each)||15,894 lbf (each)|
|Rate of climb||m/min||ft/min|
|Avionics||Thomson-CSF Cyrano IV|
|Armament||Two GIAT DEFA 553 30 mm guns with 135 rpg, two Matra R.530F semi-active radar guided air-to-air missiles, two Matra R.550 Magic/Magic II or AIM-9 Sidewinder infrared guided air-to-air missiles (intercept mission)|
In the early 'sixties, Dassault was heavily involved in production and development of the Dassault Mirage III and its derived models. While the French Air Force staff was working on the specification for a supersonic all-weather interceptor, Dassault had another card up it's sleeve with the company funded Mirage III E2, a single-seater with a sweptback wing like the Mirage III F2 and equipped with a Snecma Atar 9K-50 engine like the Dassault Mirage IV. As of the end of 1965, Dassault launched the manufacture of a prototype suitable for the French Air Force with contribution of industrial partners. This proved to be a foresighted decision, since the Mirage F2, Mirage F3 and variable sweep Mirage G eventually all fell through and left the Mirage F1 for production.
Early in 1964, Dassault was awarded a contract to develop a successor to the Dassault Mirage III with emphasis on the low-altitude penetration role, and an order followed for a single prototype of a tandem two-seat aircraft which it was intended to power with the Snecma (Pratt & Whitney) TF306 turbofan. Despite minimal resemblance and relationship to the delta-winged series of aircraft, the new fighter, which featured a high-mounted swept wing with horizontal tail surfaces, was assigned the designation Mirage F2 and was flown on 12 June 1966. Initial flight trials were conducted with a Pratt & Whitney TF30 turbofan rated at 8400kg with afterburning. After being re-engined with a TF306 of 9,000 kg, it attained Mach 2.0 on its second flight, on 29 December 1966. Work had begun on a single-seat version, the Mirage F3 with a 10350kg TF306E engine, but changes in French Air Force requirements saw interest transferred to a scaled-down and simpler version of the basic design, the Dassault Mirage F1, development of which had been pursued in parallel by Dassault, and further development of the Mirage F2 was discontinued.
As a result of France’s announced withdrawal from NATO’s integrated military organization, the Air Force’s new priority was an air defence program. In May 1966, the general staff wanted to transform the Mirage F2 into a single seat interceptor aircraft. This resulted in the Mirage F3 program, a single-seater with one Snecma (Pratt & Whitney) TF306E engine. However the Mirage F3 was not completed, following another change in the definition of priorities by the Air Force and due to the success of programs for variable geometry aircraft. It was also considered too costly and too dependant on American technology as regards the engine. In November 1967, with the success of the flights of Mirage G01, the general staff declared itself in favour of twin-engine swing-wing aircraft. Development of the Mirage F2/F3 was then officially stopped, although the weapons systems test rig based on a central digital computer was continued. The information acquired led to the weapons system of the Mirage 2000.
The experience designing the Mirage F2 proved valuable in efforts to develop the Mirage F1, a lighter (7.4 ton unladen) single-seater. Its light weight made it especially suitable for interception. One of the Mirage F1's features is its ample airspeed variations. It can fly at Mach 2 and land at 125 knots, thanks to its wing's extraordinary lift augmentation from its leading edge nose and double-slot flaps which are gruellingly difficult to fit on thin wings. Equipped with an interim Snecma Atar 9K-31 jet engine, the Mirage F1.01 made its first flight on December 23, 1966 at Melun-Villaroche piloted by René Bigand. On January 7, 1967, he reached Mach 2 on the 4th flight. Flight trials continued until, during a low-altitude high-velocity pass, the horizontal stabilizers of Mirage F1.01 broke away due to a divergent vibration phenomenon called ‘flutter’ and the aircraft struck the ground near Fos-sur-Mer, killing Dassault chief pilot René Bigand. Despite the accident, notification was given of an order for three pre-production aircraft: the Mirage F1.02, 03 and 04 with the Atar 9K-50 jet engine. Mirage F1.02 (Atar P l 31) accomplished its first flight at Istres on March 20, 1969 piloted by Jean-Marie Saget and reached Mach 1.15. Mirage F1.03 equipped with a Atar 9K-50 engine flew on September 18, 1969, and Mirage F1.04 equipped with all the on-board electronics designed for the production aircraft, on June 17, 1970.
The first flight of the first production model took place at Mérignac on February 15, 1973, piloted by Guy Mitaux-Maurouard. On March 14, 1974, it was delivered to the Air Force. The production models differed from the prototypes by the installation of slotted leading edge (inspired by the Jaguar) on the outboard two thirds of the wing, which increased the maximum angle of attack. As with the other serially-produced aircraft, a number of partner firms and subcontractors were involved in production.
It was the day version of the F1C with simplified electronic equipment and additional fuel capacity. For example, the Cyrano IV radar was replaced by a EMD Aida range-only radar. This version was realized at the request of South Africa as the Mirage F1AZ and also delivered to Lybia as Mirage F1AD.
It was the two-seat version of the Mirage F1 C. This version, initially developed at the request of Kuwait was also acquired by the French Air Force, Libya (6 as Mirage F.1BD), Spain (6 as Mirage F.1BE), Jordan (2 as Mirage F.1BJ), Kuwait (2 as Mirage F.1BK-1 and 4 as Mirage F.1BK-2) and Iraq (2 as Mirage F.1BQ-1, 2 as Mirage F.1BQ-2 and 3 as Mirage F.1BQ-3).
The Mirage F1C was the basic version optimized for all-weather all-altitude air defence. Later, two new versions (the Mirage F1CR and the Mirage F1CT) were used to equip the French Air Force when the Mirage IIIR and Mirage IIIE reached the end of their term. The French Air Force took two versions, the Mirage F1C-100 (83 a/c without refuelling probe) and Mirage F.1C-200 (81 a/c equipped with refuelling probe. Exported to South Africa (16 as Mirage F1CZ), Morocco (30 as Mirage F1CH), Greece (40 as Mirage F1CG), Spain (45 as Mirage F1CE), Jordan (17 as Mirage F1CJ) and Kuwait (18 as Mirage F1CK-1's and 9 as Mirage F1CK-2 with improved avionics and provisions to launch the Armat anti-radiation missile.
Dual seat Mirage F1E conversion trainer, ordered by Ecuador (2 as Mirage F1JE) and Qatar (2 as Mirage F1DDA).
Upgraded model of the Mirage F1C but was equipped with avionics for more precise air-to-ground missions and longer firing distances. Ordered by Morocco (20 as Mirage F1EH and probe equipped Mirage F.1EH-200), Ecuador (16 as Mirage F1JA), Libya (16 as Mirage F1ED), Spain (22 as Mirage F1EE), Jordan (17 as Mirage F1EJ), Qatar (12 as Mirage F1EDA met COR2 recce pods). Iraq was the biggest client, receiving 18 Mirage F1EQ-1, 14 Mirage F1EQ-2, 28 Mirage F1EQ-4 (with buddy-buddy refuelling and COR2 recce pod), 20 Mirage F1EQ-5 (with Agave radar and armed with Aérospatiale Exocet AShM) and 20 Mirage F1EQ-6 (as the -5 but also capable of firing the AS-14 Kerry).
Optimized for low-altitude day and night reconnaissance, the Mirage F1R was the export version of the Mirage F1CR used by the French Air Force. The Mirage F1CR-200 is equipped with an inflight refuelling probe. Modifications include:
- a SAT SCM2400 Super Cyclone infrared linescan unit is installed in the space previously occupied by the cannon
- a space under the nose can be used for a Thomson-TRT 40 panoramic camera or a Thomson-TRT 33 vertical camera
- the Cyrano IVM-R radar has extra ground- and contour-mapping modules
- additional optical and electronic sensors can be carried on the hardpoints under the fuselage and wing
Modifications and upgrades
Mirage F1 M53
Developed for the participation in the European NATO fighter competition of early seventies, seeking to replace the F-104G Starfighter. It was equipped with a more powerful engine, the Snecma M53, and other improvements. Failed to succeed, the contest was eventually won by the F-16 Fighting Falcon.
Super Mirage F1
South Africa's Aerosud developed the Super Mirage F1. Based on a South African Air Force Mirage F1 of French origin, the Super Mirage is re-engined with a Russian Klimov RD-33 turbofan, which is also used in the Mikoyan Gurevich MiG-29. The Super Mirage is additionally armed with Russian weapons, and is an upgrade aimed mainly at existing Mirage F1 operators.
Designation for Spanish Mirage F1s, upgraded by Thomson-CSF in October 1996. It covered a service- life extension programme (SLEP) and avionics upgrade for 48 F1CE/EE (C.14A/B) single-seaters and four F1EDA (C.14C) two-seat trainers. Apart from the SLEP, the upgrade package includes a revised cockpit configuration with colour liquid crystal displays and a Smart HUD (from Sextant, now also part of Thales); a Sextant inertial navigation system with GPS interface; air-to-ground radar range finding; NATO-compatible Have Quick 2 secure communications; Mode 4 digital IFF; a defensive aids suite; and flight recorders. The last of 52 upgraded Dassault C.14 Mirage F1 fighters was handed-over to the Spanish Air Force in April 2001.
In 2005 the Moroccan Air Force announced plans to upgrade its fleet of 27 Mirage F1CH/EH under the ASTRAC programme with French upgrade contractors Sagem and Thales. The deal is the first for the co-operative ASTRAC (Association Sagem-Thales pour la Rénovation d'Avions de Combat) programme, under which the two companies jointly bid for upgrade work. This series of upgrades will return the Moroccan F1s to full-operating capability with new avionics, airframe modifications and engines upgraded by Sagem's partner in Safran, Snecma. The programme was chosen in addition to buying F-16s from the US, which has been under long-term consideration. Work started in 2006 and Thales] will equip the fighters with its RC400 multimode radar, which is a derivative of the RDY fitted in the Mirage 2000-5. For the 2009 Paris Air Show, the upgrade received the designation MF2000 from SAFRAN.
- French Air Force
- South Africa
- Spain (as C.14)