The Dassault Mirage 5 saw the continuing evolution of the classic and successful Mirage III delta-winged platform introduced in 1961 (and detailed elsewhere on this site). Production of this aircraft saw 1,422 built in total and operators went on to range from Argentina to Zaire. The Mirage V was developed to help fulfill a new Israeli Air Force (IAF) requirement centered on a daytime, clear weather attack aircraft. As such, it was decided to essentially refine the existing Mirage IIIE production model for the specific role - and this meant that the Cyrano radar set and avionics kit were removed. The changes would help simplify both maintenance and operation of the new jet fighter, making for a cost-effective solution for the IAF.
The Israeli government contracted Dassault for a batch of 50 aircraft in September of 1966 and a prototype went airborne for the first time on May 19th, 1967. As finalized, the aircraft resembled the earlier Mirage III to an extent though it incorporated some slight changes to its design such as a relocated pitot tube and the introduction of two external hardpoints for broader weapons support. By and large, the form of the Mirage III was preserved including physical characteristics such as swept-back wing surfaces, a single vertical tail fin, single engine installation, and low-mounted delta wing planform.
Because of rising tensions across the Middle East theater, the French government (led by President Charles de Gaulle) was forced to restrict the sale of the new aircraft - now named the "Mirage 5" - to Israel through embargo in 1967 - this despite the aircraft having been paid for. With serial production already ongoing, it was decided to retain the new aircraft for French Air Force service and this begat the "Mirage 5F" designation upon formal introduction. The Israelis were refunded their paid portion for the aircraft batch and were forced to fulfill their strike role by other means.
It is suspected that Israeli industry went ahead and reproduced the Mirage 5 by way of blueprints in bringing about their IAI "Nesher" model while others claim collusion between the governments of France and Israel to have the Mirage 5 aircraft delivered in parts as a way around the embargo - the Israelis simply assembling the aircraft upon delivery. Regardless, the Mirage 5 went on to become another successful aircraft venture for the French Dassault concern though its ultimate production total reached just under 600 units - 582 to be exact; this compared to the over 1,400 Mirage IIIs realized.
The base attack platform was followed by a dedicated reconnaissance model in the "Mirage 5R" as well as the two-seat trainer-minded "Mirage 5D". It was also possible to upgrade the existing equipment to bring the fighter role back into the Mirage 5 - thus creating a more complete fighter-bomber form in the end. The simplicity of the aircraft also made it another favored Dassault product on the foreign market as overseas operators ultimately grew to include players from Abu Dhabi and Argentina to Venezuela and Zaire.
Belgium added to the growing production numbers (1968 onwards) through local manufacture of the Dassault 5 though now featuring U.S.-centric avionics. Chile accepted these as the Mirage "Elkan". Local production of the aircraft also stocked Belgian attack, reconnaissance, and training squadrons and twenty of these aircraft were upgraded locally before being sold off to Chile.
An uprated engine, new avionics set (with "Cyrano IV" radar system), and improved performance specifications produced the "Mirage 50" mark. However, this variant did not improve Dassault sales and was only taken on by Chile and Venezuela. Chilean Air Force aircraft were later upgraded through ENAER with help from Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) to bring them to the "Pantera" standard (IAI previously brought about the Dassault-based "Kfir" for Israeli Air Force service - this aircraft is detailed elsewhere on this site).
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Dassault Aviation - France Manufacturer(s)
Argentina; Belgium; Chile; Colombia; Ecuador; Egypt; France; Gabon; Israel (as the "Nesher"); Libya; Pakistan; Peru; Saudi Arabia; South Africa; United Arab Emirates; Venezuela; Zaire Operators
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