Dassault Mirage III


One of the most successful aircraft of the Cold War years, the Dassault Mirage III is a delta-winged, supersonic fighter, of French design and manufacture also produced under licence overseas.  The Mirage grew out of a French government specification for a lightweight, all-weather interceptor, the prototype Mirage I taking to the air on 25th June 1955.  Development of the aircraft continued steadily, and the Mirage III, unveiled on 17th November 1956, was a larger and more powerful, multi-role fighter.  The Mirage IIIC all-weather fighter-bomber, which appeared in October 1960, was the first major production model of the family, and was purchased by several countries friendly to the West.  The most popular model, however, was the Mirage IIIE, which first flew on 5th April 1961.  This aircraft had a larger fuselage and was employed as a long-range fighter-bomber.  The Mirage III remained in production for over ten years, and it served as the basis for seven related designs: the Mirage IV nuclear bomber, the Mirage 5/50 attack fighters, the Mirage F.1 fighter, the Mirage 2000 fighter, the Mirage 2000 bomber, the Israeli Kfir (Lion Cub) attack fighter and the South African Cheetah fighter.  In all, some 1,400 Mirage IIIs and variants were manufactured, and they remain in front-line service with a number of air forces around the world, including those of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Gabon, Libya, Pakistan, Peru, the United Arab Emirates and Venezuela.

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