Atomic Delta

Dassault’s Mirage IVA made its nuclear alert debut with the French Air Force 56 years ago. Former pilot Claude Michel tells the story to FlyPast contributor Frédéric Lert

October 8, 1964 was the first 24 hours in a long line of 20,000 days – whose count is not about to end. And the date starts the story of a long process, culminating in the successful end of a race against time for a new aircraft, the Mirage IV, together with a new organisation, the Forces Aériennes Stratégiques (FAS: French Strategic Air Forces).

  A fine study of Mirage IVA No.26 with a brilliant metallic finish typical of the 1960s. Despite its size, the aircraft was highly manoeuvrable once the external tanks were jettisoned 

President Gen Charles de Gaulle had decided on the date, the Armée de l’air (French Air Force) had signed up and did everything to meet the deadlines. 

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