Dassault Mirage F1 Multirole / Interceptor Aircraft
The French Dassault Mirage F.1 became one of the most successful fighter designs of the Cold War period.
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The Dassault Mirage F1 was designed to replace the successful Dassault Mirage III series. With a host of new features added to this new aircraft, the Mirage F1 would be a substantial upgrade to the whole Mirage family that would continue in service well into the new millennium. The Mirage F1 was built with capability and a multi-role perspective in mind. The aircraft was designed for high-speed handling with low or high-altitude performance, multi-faceted capabilities in the fighter or strike aircraft role and provide the pilot with some minor conveniences for long sorties requiring short turnaround times. The Mirage F1 served with distinction, particularly in the Greek Hellenic Air Force, where her arrival proved a deterrent to Turkish air space incursions for some 28 years. Over 720 Mirage F1 examples have been produced. The F1 remains one of the most battle-tested aircraft systems of the Cold War.
The F1 first flew in a Dassault-funded prototype form on December 23rd, 1966, intended as a replacement for the aging Mirage III and Mirage 5 models. Unlike previous Dassault offerings, the F1 did away with the traditional low-mounted, delta-wing configuration and instead was fitted with a high-mounted, swept wing arrangement. The French Air Force liked what it saw in the promising design and selected it for further development in the form of additional prototypes in May of 1967. The French Air Force envisioned the type as an all-weather interceptor capable of handling any of the new generation threats available. The resulting design proved a far better product than the aircraft the F1 was intended on replacing, sporting high-performance, sleek lines and a powerful Cyrano radar system. Production inevitably commenced and full operational status was achieved in May 1973.
The single engine, high-mounted swept-wing aircraft was powered by a single SNECMA Atar 9K-50 afterburning turbojet 15,785lb engine fed by two side-mounted intakes. The F1 sported a single-seat cockpit positioned in the forward portion of the streamlined fuselage. Amenities such as a self-starter, shaded canopy glass and pressured refueling system provided operators of the aircraft with the advantage of a low maintenance, highly capable aircraft. Further developments (beginning with the Mirage F1C-200) went on to integrate an in-flight refueling probe to which the combat radius was increased substantially. The unique high-mounted swept-wing design coupled with the single vertical tail fin afforded the aircraft the ability to take off and land with a minimal use of runway.
Standard armament were twin 30mm cannons along with 2 x Matra R530 series medium-range air-to-air missiles. Missiles were initially held under the wings though wingtip rails were later added for the use of Matra R550 Magic and AIM-9 Sidewinder short-range air-to-air missiles, the latter at the behest of the American-friendly Hellenic Air Force of Greece (operating Mirage F1CG models of their own).