Mirage III & V

Single-seat fighter-bomber intruder aircraft.


Mirage III was designed initially as a M2 high-altitude all-weather interceptor, capable of performing ground support missions and requiring only small airstrips. Developed versions include a two-seat trainer, long-range fighter-bomber and reconnaissance aircraft. A total of 878 Mirage III aircraft were built. A total of 1,420 Mirage III/5/50 of all types were built including licence production. The experimental prototype flew for the first time on 17 November 1956, powered by a SNECMA Atar 101G turbojet with afterburner (44.1 kN; 9,900 lb st).


Mirage III-B: Two-seat version of the III-A preseries production version.

  • Mirage III-BE: Two-seat version of the III-E.
  • Mirage III-C: All-weather interceptor and day ground attack fighter.
  • Mirage III-D: Two-seat version built initially in Australia for the RAAF. Similar French-built models ordered by 12 countries, including six more for Australia. Atar 9C afterburning turbojet engine. Tandem seating under one-piece canopy; radar deleted, but fitted with radio beacon equipment. Intended primarily as a trainer, but suitable for strike sorties, carrying air-to-surface armament. Total of 186 Mirage III-B/III-D/5 two-seaters sold to 20 countries.
    Mirage III-D2Z/EZ/R2Z: Built for South Africa with Atar 9K-50 turbojet engines. Delivered in 1974 and 1975. Rebuilt by Atlas Aviation and renamed Cheetah D/E/R.
    Mirage III-E: Long-range fighter-bomber/intruder version with Atar 9C afterburning turbojet engine, 532 have been built for 13 air forces. First of three prototypes flew on 5 April 1961 and the first delivery of a production III-E was made in January 1964. Thirty III-Es of the 4e Escadre of the French Air Force, equipping two squadrons at Luxeuil, were carriers of the 15 kT AN 52 tactical nuclear weapon. They have since been replaced by the Mirage 2000.
    Mirage III-R: Reconnaissance version of III-E. Set of five Omera type 31 cameras, in place of radar in nose, can be focused in four different arrangements for very low altitude, medium altitude, high altitude and night reconnaissance missions. Self-contained navigation system. Provision for air-to-surface armament. Two prototypes, of which the first flew in November 1961. Total of 159 production models ordered, including Mirage 5-Rs for nine air forces.
    Mirage III-RD: Similar to III-R but with improved Doppler navigation system in fairing under front fuselage, gyrostabilised gunsight and nose pack containing Omera 40 and 33 cameras. There were 20 built for French Air Force; other with avionics changes for Pakistan. An unspecified version related to the French Air Force version has provision for carrying SAT Cyclope infrared tracking equipment in a modified nosecone.
    Mirage III-S: Developed from Mirage III-E. There were 36 supplied to Swiss Air Force.


    Aerosud/Rusjet: Developing generic re-engine programme which will be applicable to Dassault Mirage III, Mirage F1 and Mikoyan MiG-21. For full details see separate entry in South Africa section.
    Atlas Aviation: Cheetah see separate entry in South Africa section.

  • Dassault:
  • Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC):
  • SAGEM: Mirage III upgrade for Pakistan Air Force.
  • Swiss Aircraft and Systems Company (SF):

    Versions of the Mirage III are in service with the armed forces of the following countries: Argentina (13); Brazil (18); Chile (1); Pakistan (83); South Africa (5) and Switzerland (51). The following description refers to the Mirage III-E, but is generally applicable to all versions.

    DESIGN FEATURES: Cantilever low-wing monoplane of delta planform, with conical camber. Thickness/chord ratio 4 per cent to 3.4 per cent. Anhedral 1°. No incidence. Sweepback on leading-edge 60° 34′. Tail unit has sweptback fin.

    FLYING CONTROLS: Trailing-edge of each wing comprises two elevons for pitch and roll control, and an inboard flap which also has an elevator function. All control surfaces hydraulically powered by Dassault twin-cylinder actuators with artificial feel. Airbrakes, comprising small panels hinged to upper and lower wing surfaces, near leading-edge. Hydraulically actuated rudder only. Dassault twin-cylinder actuators with artificial feel.

    STRUCTURE: All-metal torsion box structure; stressed skin of machined panels with integral stiffeners. The fuselage is an all-metal structure, `waisted’ in accordance with the area rule. Tail unit consists of fin and rudder only.

    LANDING GEAR: Retractable tricycle type, with single wheel on each unit. Hydraulic retraction, nosewheel rearward, main units inward. Messier-Hispano-Bugatti shock-absorbers and disc brakes. Mainwheel tyres size 750 x 230-15/1 mm, pressure 5.9-9.8 bars (85.5-142 lb/sq in). Nosewheel tyre size 450 x 390-05 mm. Braking parachute.

    POWER PLANT: One SNECMA Atar 9C turbojet engine (60.8 kN; 13,670 lb st with afterburning), fitted with an overspeed system which is engaged automatically from M1.4 and permits a thrust increase of approximately 8 per cent in the high supersonic speed range. Movable half-cone centrebody in each air intake. Optional and jettisonable SEPR 844 single-chamber rocket motor (14.7 kN; 3,300 lb st) under engine bay. Space for structural fuel tank, capacity 550 litres (145 US gallons; 121 Imp gallons), when rocket motor is not fitted. Four flexible fuel tanks around engine air inlet ducts, combined capacity 1,020 litres (269 US gallons; 224 Imp gallons). Two integral fuel tanks in each wing combined capacity 1,370 litres (361 US gallons; 301 Imp gallons). Total available internal fuel (without rocket motor) 2,940 litres (775.8 US gallons; 646 Imp gallons). Provision for this to be augmented by two 625, 1,100, 1,300 or 1,700 litre (165, 290, 343, 449 US gallon; 137, 242, 285 or 374 Imp gallon) underwing drop tanks; 500 litre (132 US gallon; 110 Imp gallon) non-jettisonable supersonic tanks; JL-100 jettisonable tanks each housing both 250 litres (66 US gallons; 55 Imp gallons) fuel and air-to-surface rockets; Bidon Cyclope jettisonable tanks each housing 1,100 litres (290 US gallons; 242 Imp gallons) fuel and electronic equipment, or Bidon Homing jettisonable tanks housing 850 litres (224 US gallons; 187 Imp gallons) fuel and electronic equipment.

    ACCOMMODATION: Single seat under rearward-hinged canopy. Hispano-built Martin-Baker RM4 zero altitude/90 kt (267 km/h; 104 mph) ejection seat.

    SYSTEMS: Two separate air conditioning systems for cockpit and avionics. Two independent hydraulic systems, pressure 207 bars (3,000 lb/sq in), for flying controls, landing gear and brakes. Power for DC electrical system for 24 V 40 Ah batteries and a 26.5 V 9 kW generator. AC electrical system power provided by one 200 V 400 Hz transformer and one 200 V 10 kVA alternator.

    AVIONICS AND EQUIPMENT: Duplicated UHF, Tacan, Doppler, CSF Cyrano II fire-control radar in nose, navigation computer and automatic gunsight. Central gyro and other avionics provide accurate and stabilised heading information. CSF 97 sighting system gives air-to-air facility for cannon and missiles, air-to-ground facility for dive bombing or LABS, and navigation facility for horizon and heading.

    ARMAMENT: Ground attack armament consists normally of two 30 mm DEFA 552A guns in fuselage, each with 125 rounds of incendiary, high-explosive or armour-piercing ammunition, and two 454 kg (1,000 lb) bombs, or an AS 30 air-to-surface missile under the fuselage and 454 kg (1,000 lb) bombs under the wings. Total external load, on five hardpoints 4,000 kg (8,818 lb). Alternative underwing stores include combined tank/bomb carriers, each with 500 litres (132 US gallons; 110 Imp gallons ) of fuel and 907 kg (2,000 lb) of bombs; JL-100 pods, each with 250 litres (66 US gallons; 55 Imp gallons) of fuel and 18 rockets; jettisonable underwing fuel tanks. For interception duties, one Matra R.530 air-to-air missile can be carried under fuselage, with optional guns and two Matra Magic missiles.


    Wing span 8.22 m (26 ft 11{1/2} in)
    Wing ratio 1.94
    Length overall: III-E. 15.03 m (49 ft 3{1/2} in)
    III-R. 15.50 m (50 ft 10{1/4} in)
    Height overall 4.50 m (14 ft 9 in)
    Wheel track 3.15 m (10 ft 4 in)
    Wheelbase: III-E 4.87 m (15 ft 11{3/4} in)
    Wings, gross 35.00 m{2} (376.7 sq ft)
    Vertical tail surfaces (total). 4.5 m{2} (48.4 sq ft)
    Weight empty: III-E 7,050 kg (15,540 lb)
    III-R 6,600 kg (14,550 lb)
    T-O weight `clean': III-E. 9,600 kg (21,165 lb)
    Max T-O weight: III-E, R 13,700 kg (30,200 lb)
    Max wing loading: III-E, R 393.1 kg/m{2} (80.53 lb/sq in)
    PERFORMANCE (Mirage III-E, in `clean’ condition with guns installed, except where indicated):
    Max level speed at 12,000 m (39,375 ft) M2.2 …..(1,268 kt; 2,350 km/h; 1,460 mph)
    Max level speed at S/L 750 kt (1,390 km/h; 863 mph)
    Cruising speed at 11,000 m (36,000 ft) M0.9
    Approach speed 183 kt (340 km/h; 211 mph)
    Landing speed 157 kt (290 km/h; 180 mph)
    Time to 11,000 m (36,000 ft) , M0.9 3 min
    Time to 15,000 m (49,200 ft), M0.9 6 min 50 s
    Service ceiling at M1.8 17,000 m (55,775 ft)
    Ceiling, using rocket motor. 23,000 m (75,450 ft)
    T-O run according to mission (up to max T-O weight) 700-1,600 m (2,295-5,250 ft)
    Landing run, using brake parachute 700 m (2,295 ft)
    Combat radius, ground attack 647 n miles (1,200 km; 745 miles)

    LENGTH (m) : 15.03
    HEIGHT (m) : 4.50
    WING SPAN (m) : 8.22
    MAX T-O WEIGHT (kg) : 13700
    MAX WING LOAD (kg/m{2}) : 393.10
    MAX LEVEL SPEED (knots) : 1268
    SERVICE CEILING (m) : 17000
    T-O RUN (m) : 1600
    LANDING RUN (m) : 700.0


    Combat aircraft upgrades (Mirage III/5/50 and Mirage F1).


    Although the first generation Mirage (types III, 5 and 50) remains available to special order, series production has now ended. At the beginning of 1990, orders totalled 1,422, of which 1,415 had been delivered, including 949 exported. Many of these remain in service, or are in storage awaiting resale. Since 1977, Dassault has been involved in programmes to update the navigation and attack systems, flight aids, radio com/nav, power plant and other features of in-service Mirage III/5/50 aircraft. In particular, several air forces have awarded Dassault contracts to install an inertial platform, digital computer, CRT head-up display, air-to-ground laser rangefinder and other equipment for improved navigational accuracy, easier target acquisition, and high bombing precision in the various CCIP (Continuous Computation of the Impact Point) or CCRP (Continuous Computation of the Release Point) modes, including standoff capability through the introduction of CCRP with initial point. Combat efficiency in the air-to-air gunnery mode is improved considerably by display of a highly accurate hot-line on the HUD.

    Another major improvement available for the Mirage III/5/50 series is a flight refuelling kit offering an increase of 30 to more than 100 per cent in radius of action. Already ordered by several air forces for their Mirage 5s, this system was demonstrated in flight before becoming generally available to Mirage operators in 1986. It involves lengthening the nose of the aircraft by 90 mm (3{1/2} in) to accommodate system changes associated with a non-retractable probe on the starboard side, forward of the windscreen, and a single-point pressure refuelling port for both internal and external tanks. With the addition of a pressure refuelling system, time for refuelling on the ground is reduced from 15 to 3 minutes.
    Over half the air forces operating Mirage III/5/50s have now opted for update programmes, some of which are undertaken at least partly by local organisations and are of sufficient complexity to warrant mention in other national sections in this book. Brief details are listed below.


    Pakistan: Update programme completed on original aircraft. There were 50 ex-Australian Mirage IIIOs acquired in 1990 for re-work at the Mirage Rebuild Factory, Kamra, with some export sales in prospect.

    SAGEM holds full responsibility for a programme to upgrade the Mirage III fleet of the Pakistan Air Force. First production order issued in June 1993. Two versions are being retrofitted, trainer/strike and multirole fighter. The first version has been fully qualified and production is in progress. Upgrade plans include air-to-ground capability as well as installation of a pulse Doppler radar.

    Several standards of equipment for modified or new airframes have been offered by Dassault in recent years, including the Mirage 3NG and Mirage 50M. Most recent of these, the Mirage IIIEX, was revealed in 1989 as a modified IIIE (being replaced in French service) with a longer, Mirage F1-type nose; underfuselage strakes (as on Mirage 5D series); an in-flight refuelling probe, offset to port, ahead of the cockpit; and fixed canards. The Doppler fairing below the forward fuselage is deleted.
    Israel Aircraft Industries (which see), seeking to export surplus Kfirs to nations not authorised to receive the GE J79 turbojet, is undertaking trial installation of a SNECMA Atar 9K-50, thereby `re-inventing’ the Mirage 50.

    MAESTRO nav/attack system

    SAGEM SA has designed the Modular Avionics Enhancement System Targeted for Retrofit Operations (MAESTRO) with flexibility so it can be easily tailored to any customer’s specific requirements and offer capabilities at par with those of current front line fighters. MAESTRO features full inertial and GPS performance provided by SAGEM navigation and mission computer systems implementing the Embedded GPS-Inertia (EGI) concept, Terrain Contour Matching (TERCOR) for stealth navigation and blind attack in combination with the SAGEM high-capacity data transfer system, wide field-of-view FLIR-compatible HUD, glass cockpit, Hands On Throttle And Stick (HOTAS) interface, air-to-ground and air-to-air fire control, including multimode pulse Doppler radar and/or laser rangefinder, full EW suite comprising radar warning, missile launch detection, chaff and flare self-protection and/or jamming systems and the all digital CIRCE 2001 mission planning system. MAESTRO can be adapted to new aircraft of western or eastern origin.

    Operational status

    In production. Applications include the upgrade of Belgian Air Force Mirage 5, Chilean Air Force Mirage 5 and C-101 combat/trainer aircraft, Indian Air Force Jaguar, PZL Irdya Polish trainer/attack aircraft and Pakistan Air Force Mirage III and 5.

    COMPANY NAME : SAGEM SA, Defence and Security Division, Paris

    Sigma ring laser gyro inertial navigation systems

    The Sigma family of inertial navigation systems is implemented by the combination of high-performance laser gyro sensors and a GPS receiver. Such systems are intended for use in combat aircraft equipped with a multiplexed databus. Sigma systems offer all the benefits of tight hybridisation between ring laser gyros and a GPS receiver by a multisensor Kalman filter for both alignment and navigation. The synergy between these three elements brings the following advantages; reduction in size, weight and power consumption through the integration of inertial and GPS functions; short alignment time on the ground, in the air or at sea; monitoring of sensor performance and integrity for GPS and INS; automatic in-flight calibration of inertial sensors; long-term stability of inertial performance and higher resistance to jamming and improved dynamic behaviour of the GPS. Some versions combine the navigation and fire-control functions. These versions provide aircraft position, velocity and attitude information, computation of navigation and steering information to waypoints; position updating by navigation fixes; terrain reference updating; weapon delivery computations consisting of ballistics, determination of release point, ripple spacing of weapons, safety pull-up information; head-up display information for target acquisition and commands for the blind release of stores; attack modes; air data computations and multiplex bus control.

    Sigma 92G inertial nav/attack system

    The Sigma 92G uses three ring laser gyros and three quartz accelerometers. It is fitted with an embedded GPS receiver and performs weapon delivery functions.


    Dimensions: 194 x 191 x 380 mm
    Weight: 17 kg (with GPS)
    Power supply: 28 V DC, 60 W
    Accuracy: 0.8 n mile/h in pure inertial mode

    Details of PAF Mirages from France.

    Elements of SAGEM’s MAESTRO (modular Avionics Enhancements System targeted for Retrofit Operations) digital package, installed some years earlier in 20 belgian Mirage 5BA/BDs, and applied to the PAF’s Mirage 5s include the SAGem ULISS 92 INS/GPS, with the TRECOR terrain-matching system and UTR-90 computer, Honeywell radar altimeter, multifunction cockpit and wide-angle stroke and raster head-up displays, hands-onthrottle-and-stick, SAGEM Circe 2001 mission planning system, provision for night-vision goggles, plus thermal-imaging forward looking infra-red (FLIR) and laser rangefinder in a forward ventral fairing.

    Smart weapons capabilities may be further exploited by the navigation/tageting pod shown SAGEM’s Mirage 5F at Le Bourget.

    Although described as the dart, this appears identical to Rafael’s LITENING pod. Other Mirage 5F upgrades included an integrated electrnoc warefare suite, on-board oxygen generation system (OBOGS), and single point pressure refuelling. Delivery of the last upgraded 5F from SAGEM to Pakistan was expected in mid 1999.

    Operational status :In production for the Pakistan Air Force Mirage III upgrade.

    Type Role Ordered Delivered Year(s) of Delivery Seller/Origin In Service (2000)
    Mirage III EP Multi-Role 18 18 1968-1971 Dassault-Breguet (France) 16
    Mirage III RP Recconaissance 13 13 1968-1971 Dassault-Breguet
    Mirage III DP Trainer 3 3 1968 Dassault-Breguet
    Mirage 5 PA Ground-Attack 28 28 1973-1979 Dassault-Breguet
    Mirage 5 DPA Trainer 4 4 1973 Dassault-Breguet
    Mirage 5 PA2/3 Ground-Attack 30 30 1973-1979 Dassault-Breguet
    Mirage 5 DPA2 Trainer 2 2 1973-1979 Dassault-Breguet
    Mirage III O Multi-Role 43 43 1990 Royal Australian Air Force 43
    Mirage III OD Trainer 7 7 1990 Royal Australian Air Force 7
    Mirage III EE Multi-Role 22 22 1990s Spanish Air Force 22
    Mirage III DE Trainer 2 2 1990s Spanish Air Force 2
    Mirage III EL Multi-Role 9 9 1990s Lebanese Air Force 9
    Mirage III E Multi-Role 40 16 1996- Sagem S.A. /Armee d’ l’ Air


    18     Mirage III EPs (multi-role)
    13     Mirage III RPs (reconnaissance)
    3       Mirage III DPs (trainers)
    28     Mirage 5 PAs (ground-attack)
    4       Mirage 5 DPAs (trainers)
    30     Mirage 5 PA2s (ground-attack)
    2       Mirage 5 DPA2s (trainers)


    16     Mirage III EPs (multi-role)
    12     Mirage III RPs (recce)
    2       Mirage III DPs (trainers)
    28     Mirage 5 PAs (ground-attack)
    4       Mirage 5 DPAs (trainers)
    30     Mirage 5 PA2s (ground-attack)
    2       Mirage 5 DPA2s (trainers)


    43     Mirage III Os (multi-role) (ex-Australian)
    7       Mirage III ODs (trainers) (ex-Australian)
    22     Mirage III EEs (multi-role) (ex-Spanish)
    2       Mirage III DEs (trainers) (ex-Spanish)
    9       Mirage III ELs (multi-role) (ex-Lebanese)
    16     Mirage III Es (multi-role) (ex-French)

    Uliss inertial navigation and nav/attack systems

    Uliss modular systems all employ high-accuracy inertial components consisting of two dynamically tuned gyros and three dry accelerometers, a microprocessor-controlled computer working at 1 Mops with EPROM memory and highly integrated and hybrid circuits. As an option, Uliss can be equipped with an embedded GPS receiver for high-performance INS/GPS coupling and a higher-performance RISC processor using Ada language. Uliss systems fall into two categories, in both of which the main inertial navigation unit is contained within a {3/4} ATR short case. In the first category are navigation versions with a position accuracy of better than 1 n mile/h. In the second category the navigation function is combined with the computation necessary for weapon delivery. Alignment time is 90 seconds for stored heading and 5 to 10 minutes for self-contained gyrocompassing. Standard interfaces permit the systems to be linked to other equipment via MIL-STD-1553B databusses or ARINC serial data lines. A failure detection system can detect faults at module level with 93 per cent confidence, isolate them and signal their presence on a magnetic annunciator without external test equipment. More than 80 per cent of the components and subassemblies are common to all members of the Uliss family, the principal differences being in specific interfaces and computation functions. In all, 1,600 Uliss units are in operation on 25 different types of aircraft.

    Uliss 92 Inertial Nav/Attack System

    The Uliss 92 combines in a single box all the functions of an inertial navigation and fire-control system. It is based on Ada programming and comprises three units: UNA 92 inertial/attack box, PCN 92 control/display unit and PSM 92 mode selector.


    (navigator) 386 x 194 x 191 mm
    (control/display unit) 216 x 116 x 153 mm
    (mode selector) 151 x 41 x 135 mm
    (navigator) 16 kg
    (control/display unit) 3.5 kg
    (mode selector) 1 kg
    Power supply: 115 V AC, 400 Hz, 3 phase, 220 VA
    Accuracy: 1 n mile CEP position, 5 mrad weapon delivery

    Operational status : In production for the Belgian Air Force Mirage 5 and the Pakistan Air Force Mirage III upgrades.