Dassault Mirage IV
In 1954 the French Government elected to create their own nuclear deterrent force. Development of a launch platform for the weapons was headed by Dassault with a requirement for a long-range high-speed mission to be met. Basically a scaled-up Mirage III, the project redesign considered many changes in size and powerplant, but the solution was found with inflight-refuelling.
The first Dassault Mirage IVA prototype flew on 17 June 1959, then powered by two 6000kg SNECMA Atar 09 augmented turbojets. On its 14th test flight during July 1959 it reached Mach 1.9, and attained Mach 2 on its 33rd flight.
Three pre-production prototypes followed, the first of which flew on 12 October 1961. Powered by a pair of 6400kg Atar 9Cs, this aircraft was larger and more representative of the production Mirage IVA, incorporating a large circular radome under the centre fuselage forward of the semi-recessed nuclear free-fall bomb.
The first of these pre-production aircraft was used for bombing trials and development at Colomb-Bechar; the second similar aircraft was used to develop the navigation and inflight-refuelling systems; and the third, a completely operational model with Atar 9Ks, full equipment including nose-probe for refuelling and armament, flew on 23 January 1963.
The French air force ordered 50 production aircraft for delivery in 1964-5, with a repeat order for a further 12 placed later for the French Air Force’s Force de Frappe.
The useful radius of 1,000 miles (1,610 km) can be extended by in-flight refuelling. By 1967 all had entered French Air Force service, each carrying a free-fall nuclear bomb under the fuselage.
By 1985, about 50 IV-As remain operational. Most deployed as tactical bombers with strategic capability, carrying either a nuclear weapon or 1,000-lb of bombs, although a very small number have been mod strategic reconnaissance aircraft.
The IV-A has received in-service modifications permitting it to be used for low-level as well as high-level bombing missions.
Dassault is converting 18 Mirage IVAs to carry the medium-range air-to-surface (ASMP) nuclear missile as Mirage IVPs. An avionics upgrade, including the fitting of a Thomson-CSF Arcana pulse-Doppler radar and dual inertial systems, improved navigation and attack capabilities. The Mirage IVP will also have an improved elec-tronic warfare system with upgraded jamming pods and chaff dispensers carried on the outer wing pylons.
The last of nine Mirage IVA strategic bomber units disbanded in July 1988 with passing of the French nuclear deterrent to silo-based S-3 strategic missiles. However, two units still operate remaining Mirage IVPs (P= Penetration) of 18 upgraded between May 1983 and December 1987 to carry the ASMP medium-range nuclear-tipped air-to-surface missile. Mirage IVPs have Arcana pulse doppler radar, dual inertial navigation systems, a Thomson-CSF Barem self protection jamming pod, a BOZ-100 chaff/flare pod and Thomson-CSF Serval radar warning receivers. Eighteen unconverted Mirage IVAs remained in store.
Production totaled 62 aircraft plus four prototypes.
Engine: 2 x SNECMA Atar 09K-50 afterburning turbo-jet, 15400 lb (7000kg) thrust.
Wing span: 38 ft 10.5 in (11.85 m).
Length: 77 ft 1 in (23.50 m).
Wing area: 840 sq ft (78.0 sq.m).
Height: 5.4 m / 17 ft 9 in
Empty weight: 14500 kg / 31967 lb
Gross weight: 69,665 lb (31,600 kg).
Max speed: 1,450 mph (2,335 km/h) at 36000 ft (11 000 m).
Cruise speed: 1966 km/h / 1222 mph
Ceiling: 20000 m / 65600 ft
Range: 2480 km / 1541 miles
Range w/max.fuel: 4000 km / 2486 miles
Armament: 1 x 60kt nuclear bomb or 7260kg of weapons