Origins and prototypes
The Mirage 50, the last version of the Mirage III/5 family, was introduced in 1969.
As the successor to – but not a replacement for- the Mirage 5, which had become a genuinely versatile aircraft, the Mirage 50 benefited from a more powerful Snecma Atar 9K 50 turbo-jet and a more sophisticated electronics system which could, depending on the main mission, be derived from that of either the Mirage F1 (Thomson CSF Cyrano IV radar) or the Super-Etendard (Agave radar from Electronique Serge Dassault).
Mirage 50 01, built out of Mirage III R E n°301, first flew at Istres on May 15, 1979, piloted by Patrick Experton.
Production and operational experience
Designed as a first aircraft for countries wanting to possess a Mach 2+ combat aircraft for the least possible outlay, the Mirage 50 was also the natural next step up from the Mirage III or 5.
A total 24 units have been produced for 2 countries: this version was purchased by Chile and Venezuela.
France’s Air Force has taken delivery of 95 Mirage III C, 59 Mirage III B, B1, B2 and BE (the D version for the export market), 70 Mirage R and RD, 183 Mirage III E, and 50 Mirage 5 F, putting the total at 457 planes. The last of those planes were withdrawn from operational units in 1994. Some, however, were still used at CEV, a flight test center, after that.
The Mirage III/5/50 family points to France’s high-ranking position among the world’s industrial nations. A total 1 401 Mirage III/5/50, in 90 different versions, have been built since 1958. They have served in 21 countries around the world and clocked a combined 3 million flying hours.