Dassault Mirage IIIV Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) Fighter Prototype Aircraft
The Dassault Mirage IIIV was a proposed VTOL development of the successful Mirage III fighter line.
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The Mirage IIIV was designed to a NATO requirement for a supersonic VTOL (Vertical Take-Off and Landing) fighter aircraft. The Mirage IIIV was a further development of the successful Mirage III fighter series but featured a series of eight small turbofan engines along the fuselage to achieve vertical lift. Only two prototypes were built between 1965 and 1966, to which the second one was lost to accident that effectively killed the entire program. NATO would settle on the Hawker-designed P.1154 VTOL prototype in the end. Some components of the IIIV were later fitted into the Mirage IIIF and the Mirage F1 series aircraft.
Despite the Mirage III pedigree, the relatively new attempts at vertical and horizontal flight capabilities from one airframe proved to be quite a challenge. The systems allocated to the design made the Mirage IIIV a complicated fuel-hungry aircraft. Developmental setbacks, inefficiency of the design and a lack of private funding made sure that the Dassault design would never see the light of day. To this day, the Hawker-inspired Harrier series of aircraft remains the only VTOL fighter aircraft of note, seeing operational and combat duties in a variety of conflicts. Lockheed's newer F-35 Lightning II (detailed elsewhere on this site) also represents a next generation approach to VTOL aircraft design and engineering.