On June 12, 1966, at Istres, Jean Coureau took off in a Mirage III F2 01, based on a Mirage III and equipped with a sharply sweptback and lift augmented high wing.
In 1963, the Air Force general staff worked out the specifications for a low-altitude, all-weather aircraft capable of supersonic interception, and suitable for use on short runways with limited equipment, at an approach velocity of less than 140 knots (260km/hr).
On November 21, 1963, the Dassault corporation signed the development contract for a prototype aircraft, the Mirage III F equipped with a TF 106 jet engine. The delta wing was replaced by a high, sharply sweptback and lift augmented wing. The stabilizers were mounted low on the fuselage which was a first for the corporation.
In 1965, the DMA ordered three two-seat Mirage F2 prototypes for the Air Force. Israel, which was looking for a low-altitude aircraft able to penetrate up to 800 km (431 nm), took an interest in the project but the deal fell through.
On June 12, 1966, at Istres, Jean Coureau took off in Mirage III F2 01 equipped with a TF 30 jet engine. It was the first corporation aircraft in which trial flight data was transmitted by telemetry, increasing the aid the trial team could offer the pilot, and thus improving the security and continuity of trials. On December 29, it achieved Mach 2 and made a landing in 480 m.
As a result of France’s announced withdrawal from NATO’s integrated military organization, the Air Force’s new priority was an air defense program. In May 1966, the general staff wanted to transform the Mirage F2 into an interceptor aircraft. This resulted in the Mirage F3 program, a single-seater with one Pratt&Whitney/Snecma TF 306 engine.
However the Mirage F3 was not completed, following another change in the definition of priorities by the Air Force and due to the success of programs for variable geometry aircraft. It was also considered too costly and too demandant on American technology as regards the engine. In November 1967, with the success of the flights of Mirage G01, the general staff declared itself in favor of twin-engine swing-wing aircraft. Development of the Mirage F2/F3 was then officially stopped, although the weapons systems test rig based on a central digital computer was continued. The information acquired led to the weapons system of the Mirage 2000.