The Mirage-4A Medium Strategic Bomber was a strategic nuclear weapon platform. The bomb carrier was a bomber aircraft. A second aircraft for electronic reconnaissance and offensive jamming was to prepare the way for the bombers and accompany the bombing raid. In June 1996, the Mirage IVP were retired as a bomber. The last Mirage IV (P) were retired from operational service as a reconnaisance platform in 2005. It was the linchpin of France's strategic nuclear strike force. Dassault was the prime contractor for the complete weapon system: aircraft, navigation and attack management system, as well as casing and release system for the nuclear device.
The development of the aircraft could have gone in two directions. The first was the installation of "01" weapons and related airborne equipment and launch it into the series. This option was called "Mirage" IVA. The second was the continuation of research into the creation of a more advanced aircraft with the designation "Mirage" IVB, take-off weight of about 50 tons and a range of 2500 km. In the case of the adoption of the second scenario, the construction of a full-fledged bomber could not be completed until 1961. Considering such terms were not acceptable, the government adopted the existing aircraft.
Considering such terms were not acceptable, the government adopted the existing aircraft. This decision was influenced by the worldwide "hobby" missiles. The artificial satellites of the USSR and the USA were already circling above the planet, ballistic missiles were on duty at open ground launches, and the sea underwent sea trials underwater submarine "George Washington" with the "Polaris". The French did not want to trail behind the superpowers and began their missile program, believing that the bombers would not be armed for more than ten years, until the end of the 1960s, and then they would be replaced by ballistic missiles of land and sea basing. Therefore, it was not worth the time and money to develop a new aircraft.
Fourteen air tankers bought from the US in 1963 specifically to support the flights of strategic "Mirage", with refueling in the air their flight range reached 4000 km. There was also a French system of refueling, which was tested since 1961 and demonstrated at the 24th Paris Air Show in Bourges in the spring of 1961. Then the "Mirage" was refueled from the suspended container of the aircraft "Votur". "Mirage" IVA 04 fully corresponded to the serial configuration of the aircraft. On it there were engines "Atar" 9K with a thrust on afterburner 7000 kg.
When all systems were debugged, mass production of aircraft began. The state order numbered 50 aircraft. The first ten cars were expected by the end of 1963. During 1964, it was planned to build 22 more aircraft. The end of supplies was scheduled for 1965. The built-up airplanes were transferred to the arsenal of a new type of armed forces "Force de dissuasions-the future of France's aviation."
The aircraft was equipped with a delta wing with a sweepback of 60° on the leading edge. High lift devices include two-section elevons (aileron-flaps)and airbrakes located on the upper and lower surfaces of each wing. A brake parachute was accommodated at the base of the vertical keel. The aircraft has a tricycle landing gear, with the main struts each having four wheels (tire pressure of 12 kg/cm2), and the forward strut has two (8 kg/cm2).
The Snecma Atar 9 B jet engines – 13,200 lb of thrust with reheat – were identical to those of the Mirage III A which first flew in May of 1958, a full year before the Mirage IV. There were adjustable engine air intakes along the sides of the fuselage.
Fuel was accommodated in wing and fuselage tanks. To increase flight range the aircraft could carry up to three 2,500 liter suspended tanks (two beneath the wing and one under the fuselage). The Mirage-4A also was equipped with an aerial refueling system. One cluster of three rocket boosters could be installed beneath each wing to provide a short take-off.
The Mirage IV was the first French aircraft to incorporate one-way electronic flight controls for pitch and roll. The aircraft's electronics include a radar for viewing the earth's surface and for fire control (with an antenna in the fairing beneath the central part of the fuselage). The primary armament was one AN-22 nuclear bomb suspended in a semi-recessed position beneath the fuselage (behind the radar antenna fairing).
By mid-1966, a "Force de dissuasion" base of 36 combat aircraft scattered throughout the country at 9 aerodromes should be created in three wings of the two squadrons each. The squadron consisted of four aircraft.At each base, the Mirage IVA aircraft were in a state of constant combat readiness, in a special hangar with devices for exhausting engine exhaust, which allowed to run right in the hangar.
The scenario of combat use looked something like this: take off two Mirage IVA aircraft, one with the maximum fuel reserve in internal and suspension tanks, the other with an atomic bomb and suspension tanks. After taking off and flying a certain distance, both planes were refueled from the KC-135F to the maximum weight and fly to the target. At the calculated point, the "Mirage carrier" was refueled from its "companion" and then continues to fly to the goal on its own. In order to shorten the reaction time from receiving an order for departure, before collecting cars in the air, all bombers began to equip with a dozen solid-fuel accelerators 5EPR 841 suspended under the center wing wing. When they were switched on, the run was reduced from 3300 meters to 1800 meters.
In 1964, ordered another 12 Mirage IV aircraft, they were built by the end of 1968. Bombers had a high degree of reliability, in seven years of operation there were only six accidents. In the late sixties, all aircraft underwent a modernization, which made it possible to proceed to low-level flights.
In 1965, France offered the UK to buy the "Mirage" IV instead of the American F-111 aircraft. In the case of buying French aircraft, the British could save 1 million pounds on each purchased aircraft. English "Mirages" wanted to convert two-loop engines "Spey" 101R with a lower fuel consumption, but a larger diameter. Flight characteristics of the bomber had to improve, but the airframe of the aircraft required alteration. France tried to press on the UK, threatening to abandon joint projects, but as a result, neither the Americans nor the French achieved success. The British generally refused to purchase a foreign-made aircraft.
The most significant modification in the 1970s related to the flight profile of flight of the system. To respond to the increasing effectiveness of air defenses, the system focused on penetration low altitude in order to face the increasingly large effectiveness of the ground-to-air missiles in the Eastern European countries. Some modifications of the structure of the plane were necessary to face the constraints of the flight imposed by low altitude. Internal countermeasures were added, and the the model AN 22 nuclear weapon was modified to be releasable at low altitude.
The Mirage IV-P/ASMP program was made possible only by the control of very modern techniques and the judicious choices of the selected options. In addition, the Air Force had to adapt the men and the structures to the integration of the Mirage IV-P and the ASMP. Between 1986 and the end of the lifetime of Mirage IV-P [envisaged in 1996], the deployed component included the 91ème Escadre of bombardment with two squadrons, the Center of Instruction of the strategic air Forces and the 93ème Escadre of in-flight refueling with three squadrons.
When it entered into service in 1964, the Mirage IV A was the first European military aircraft capable of sustained flight at Mach 2; it was still the only one in Western Europe.
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