One of the most successful aircraft created in French aero-industry, the Mirage III was initially designed as a lightweight interceptor but found greater success as a multi-role fighter. Defined by the French Air Force following the Korean war (1950-53), the Mirage III was a single-engine fighter-bomber. It combined delta-wing design with a fuselage optimized to reduce air shear (giving the plane its distinctive wasp-waisted look). First flown as the Mirage IIIA prototype, 17th November 1956 piloted by Roland Glavany, at Melun-Villaroche (the Seine-et-Marne region of France). The aircraft entered service with the French Air Force in 1958. The aircraft would later be enhanced with variable-flow air intakes (thanks to conical spoilers moving along the intake axis to choke airflow) and servocontrolled flight surfaces, all invented by Dassault engineers.
Its combat effectiveness in the hands of Israeli Air Force pilots during the Six Day war in 1967 ensured the export success of this aircraft. Since 1958, there have been 1,401 Mirage III's and derivative Mirage 5's and 50's built, taking account of the more than 80 different versions developed for 21 countries around the world. They have logged over 3 million flying hours.
The Mirage III remained operational in the French Air Force between 1961 and 1994.
Country of origin: France
Prime contractor: Dassault Aviation
Type: Multirole fighter
In-service year: 1958
Powerplants: One SNECMA Altar 9C-3 turbojet, 9435lb dry and 13,670lb with afterburning. (50M) SNECMA Altar 9K-50 turbojet, 11,025lb dry and 15,875lb with afterburning
Max speed: 2350km/h (1268kts)
Cruising speed: 955km/h (516kts)
Range (hi-lo-hi attack mission): 1200km
Ferry range: 4000km
Max takeoff weight: 30,205lb.
Wing span: 8.22 m / 27 ft
Length: 15.03 m / 49 ft 4 in
Height: 4.5 m / 14 ft 9 in
Crew: Pilot only, two in tandam in IIIB and IIID
Armament: Two (fixed) DEFA 552A 30mm cannons with 125 rounds each; 4000kg (8818lb) on four underwing and one centerline hardpoint. Including AIM-9, R.550 Magic, R.350, AS 30, AS 37, bombs, rockets and nuclear weapons.