Both the Mirage III and Mirage 5 have been built in very large numbers and are in service in many countries. The two airframes are basically the same, except the Mirage 5 has a longer nose. A contemporary of MiG-21, the Dassault-Breguet Mirage III entered service with the French air force in 1960. Since then it has been sold to more than 20 countries and it has seen combat from the Middle East to southern Africa and South America. It was the principal fighter of the Israeli air force for many years-so much so that when France suspended deliveries in 1967 Israel developed a copy, the IAI Dagger - later used by Argentina in the Falklands war. Argentina also used Mirage III interceptors during that campaign, but kept them back to defend mainland bases after the famous 'Black Buck' bombing raid: Since 1960 there have been many versions of the Mirage III, including reconnaissance aircraft, fighter-bombers and the clear-weather day fighter, the Mirage V.
The Mirage III has low-mounted delta wings with pointed tips. There is one turbojet engine inside fuselage, with semicircular air intakes forward of the wing roots below the canopy and a large, single exhaust. The fuselage is long, slender, and tubular with a pointed nose and a bubble cockpit. The tail is large, swept-back, and has a tapered tail fin with a square tip. There are no tail flats.
The Mirage-5 was developed in 1967 on the basis of the Mirage-IIIE (identical airframe and power plant), but it has simpler electronics, 470 liters more capacity of internal fuel tanks, and substantially greater payload. The Mirage-5's primary purpose is to deliver strikes against ground targets, for which it can carry a payload of up to 4,000 kg on six wing attachment point sand one fuselage attachment point. In accomplishing missions of intercepting airborne targets the Mirage-5 fighter is fitted with two Magic R.550 or Side-winder air-to-air guided missiles and three suspended fuel tanks with a total capacity of 4,700 liters (two 1,700 liter tanks and one 1,300 liter tank). The aircraft's built-in armament consists of two DEFA 30-mm cannon with a total unit of fire of 250 rounds.
The Mirage-5's electronics, installed at the desire of the customer, can include an inertial navigation system, a sighting-navigation system with electro-optical display and an Agave multirole radar or laser rangefinder-target designator and the Aida-2 radar. As of February 1984 around 440 Mirage-5 aircraft including the reconnaissance (Mirage-5R) and trainer(Mirage-5D) versions had been ordered for the air forces of 12 countries.
The Mirage-50 has an identical airframe to the Mirage-III and Mirage-5, but is fitted with the more powerful Atar-9K50 engine (with a thrust of 7,300 kg with afterburner). The prototype made its first flight in the spring of 1979. The Mirage-50 is a multirole fighter intended for air superiority missions, accomplishing air defense missions and delivering strikes against ground targets. All types of weapons of theMirage-III and Mirage-5 fighters can be suspended on it. The Agave or Cyrano radars and an inertial sighting-navigation system are the basic electronic components. The advantages of this aircraft over the Mirage-III and Mirage-5 fighters incllude: shorter take-off distance, increased payload (fuel and weapons), higher rate of climb, and improved acceleration and maneuver characteristics. The fuel reserve in the internal tanks is3,475 liters. In addition, the Mirage-50 can carry up to three drop-tanks (two beneath the wing and one beneath the fuselage) with a total capacity of 4,700 liters.
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