The French aviation concern of Dassault found success with its Mirage 3 jet-powered interceptor platform to which production totaled 1,422 and led to widespread use all over the world from Argentina to Zaire. From this platform was spawned the capable Mirage 5 attack model which entered service with the French Air Force in the late 1960s and, once again, global operators soon followed. While its total production netted just 582 examples it proved a viable attack system built upon the successes of the supersonic Mirage III. The Mirage V model went on to spawn the Israeli "Nesher" multirole and "Kfir" fighter-bomber forms in due time.
In the 1970s, the uprated Atar 09K-50 series engine was added to the line and a Cyrano IV radar suite was installed as part of a new avionics package upgrade. With improved performance, the Mirage V was now offered in its new "Mirage 50" guise though takers on the foreign market proved slim on the whole - Chile being the only real operator with Venezuela following. The Chilean Mirage 50s were expanded along their own lines into several subvariants of the base model - the Mirage 50C were six standard attack systems and the Mirage 50FC came from a batch of eight aircraft fitted with new engines. The Mirage 50DC was a trio of two-seat trainer-minded aircraft built for the Chilean Air Force and fitted with down-rated Atar 9C-3 engines.
The Chilean Air Force aircraft came from both existing stocks of fighters as well as new-build aircraft. It was sometime later that these aircraft were upgraded for the Chilean Air Force by the local concern of ENAER with Israeli assistance and ended up producing the ENAER Mirage 50CN "Pantera" ("Panther") model. Chief changes for the Pantera included a whole new Kfir-style nose section which was lengthened over the original. Other additions included upgraded avionics and canard foreplanes for improved control as well as slight aerodynamic alterations. The Pantera upgrade program incorporated both the Mirage 50C and Mirage 50FC airframes and totaled 15 aircraft that also encompassed a pair of Mirage 50DC trainers.
The Chilean Air Force retired its stock of Panteras from 2006 to 2007, relying today on its fleet of 46 General Dynamics / Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighter Falcon multirole fighters as well as about a dozen or so Northrop F-5E/F Tiger II (upgraded to "Tiger III" standard) aircraft.
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