How good of a fighter was the Mirage F1?

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[QUOTE=sheytanelkebir;2083886]

Ali Hussain Fadhel
Mohammed Salim Ahmad.

Thanks for that correction to my translation.

Regards,

Steve

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If memory serves, its main limitation was in terms of defensive aids and hardpoints, meaning that in later life combat missions necessitated carriage of chaff/flare and ECM pods on the two wing hardpoints. This meant that the centerline hardpoint was the only one available on some missions. I suspect the slim fuselage caused some of these difficulties, i.e. not providing room for the added equipment.

EdLaw, I guess this was the problem with Dassault taking the decision to chose to literally use the existing Mirage III fuselage as the basis of the Mirage F1 design. But replacing the Mirage III's delta wing with the new shoulder mounted wing design, in an effort to save cost.
I've always thought that Dassault could have applied more combat experience gained by the Mirage III, when designing and building the Mirage F1, and the inherent Chaff/flare and ECM deficiencies should have been built in. I wounder if this was the case with the original larger, heavier and more expensive Mirage F2, from which the Mirage F1 was derived as a cheaper alternative?
For me what I have always loved with the Mirage F1 design is it's wonderfully robust and efficient rough-field landing gear design (reminiscent of the SEPECAT Jaguar's! I wounder if Dassault's experience with the designing of the Mirage F1's landing gear was responsible for the Jaguar's landing gear design??). Speaking about lack of hardpoints on the Mirage F1, when needing external carriage of chaff/flare and ECM, I'm surprised that Dassault never considered employing the 'over-wing hardpoint' arrangement used by later SEPECAT Jaguar International! This in essence would have freed up the wing-tip hardpoints otherwise used for Matra 550 Magic/Aim-9 Sidewinder SRAAM's to carry flare/chaff pods! On the issue of ECM, I don't think the French have traditionally taken such individual defensive systems very serious. But I could be wrong!!

Just a thought

Regards
Pioneer

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I doubt the Jaguar landing gear was derived from Dassault, & its experience with Mirage F.1. Dassault didn't design the landing gear, & Jaguar was designed by BAC & Breguet, with AFAIK no input from Dassault. Both Mirage F.1 & Jaguar were flying years before Breguet merged with Dassault.

But - both Mirage F.1 & Jaguar have landing gear designed in France by Messier, now Messier-Bugatti-Dowty, a subsidiary of Safran. I expect the people at Messier knew a good thing when they'd designed it, & didn't want to waste effort re-inventing, & so offered Breguet something similar to what they'd just designed for Dassault.

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I doubt the Jaguar landing gear was derived from Dassault, & it's experience with Mirage F.1. Dassault didn't design the landing gear, & Jaguar was designed by BAC & Breguet, with AFAIK no input from Dassault. Both Mirage F.1 & Jaguar were flying years before Breguet merged with Dassault.

But - both Mirage F.1 & Jaguar have landing gear designed in France by Messier, now Messier-Bugatti-Dowty, a subsidiary of Safran. I expect the people at Messier knew a good thing when they'd designed it, & didn't want to waste effort re-inventing, & so offered Breguet something similar to what they'd just designed for Dassault.

I think the design was created for a STOL design by Breguet with a fold-able nose section fielding that characteristic landing gear geo. Although I Can't remember the name for now. Sry not much help.

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First off, the missiles which the Mirage F-1EQ4s used were Super 530D, not the Super 530F. The difference is enormous in terms of useful envelope from the all aspect Doppler seeker mechanics ability to accept a trajectory shape without the ASE/fuzing limit in look up and a hard clutter boundary in look down that characterize the F. The 530D was essentialy an AIM-7M seeker (with a bigger antenna gain) attached to a STARM missile equivalent. A real monster for the 1980s.

The autopilot and 'fighter target' motor impulse curves gave the 530D a genuine Mach 4.6 flyout whereas the AIM-54A is called 'The Buffalo' because most of it's mid course is in the range Mach 2.65 with only the snap down being the famous 'Mach 5 class'.

And thus you have a SARH weapon which routinely outpoled the Alpha model Phoenix, even as the Cayman and similar support jammers degraded the AWG-9 Kalmann filtering, badly.

Super 530D and the Cyrano-IVM2 were thus a powerful combination which greatly destabilized the tanker war fights and forced the Ali Cats to assume more and more of an MFFC standoff director mode, using offset (forward, low) F-4s and F-5s to bum rush the Iraqi Mirage's and throw them off their SARH game. Which simply led to the Mirages shooting down the Phantoms and Tigers instead.

When the Iranians could not hold over Kharg, becase the MIG-25RBs were Peleng bombing the crap out of the HAWK sites and the big refinery stacks, they had to shift to moving raw crude down to Bandar Abbas in small oilers and the few genuine tankers which were willing to run the write off risk in trade for huge markups on the 'conflict oil' (which was then partly refined and retransfered to VLCC/ULCC, again drastically effecting Iranian profits).

Air Superiority in turn allowed the Mirage F-1EQ5 (single centerline Exocet + Agave radar) and F-1EQ6 (Banana tank, two wing pylon Exocet and buddy refueling range extension) to replace the previously wet-leased SUE in running right down the Gulf to sink the Iranian Tankers (and anyone Stark else that made a habit of warning the Armilla and Earnest Will escorts for the Bahrainian flagged ships), practically at the gates of Hormuz.

Had the F-14s been capable of stopping the lolo'ing Mirages, they would have but the Iraqis got 'the good stuff' from France and kicked the American export customer level AWG/Phoenix combination's behinds.

Indeed, according to some, it was not even Iraqi pilots who flew those sorties as the aircraft and weapons were in fact employed by 'Free French' mercs so that nobody could possibly get lost and pull a Black Buck with the latest Matra product onboard.

This is one illustration of where a weapons system makes the most of the airframe.

The SAAF tactics model is similar but opposite in that the V3b Kukri was basically a modified Magic 1 in terms of performance with a wider boresight limit and VTAS level helmet sight that let them cut the corner on threats they could not turn with or, more often, using engagement geometry to snap-cue the radar from a passive standby to beat the Sirena 3 RWR warning, coming out of an offset lead turn.

Here it must be said that the MiG-23 is a piece of junk. The wing is effectively not just a lifting area and aspect ratio changer (retractable wing area being the essence of dumb in VG, in that you don't sweep the wing until you are at high altitude where the thin air means you need the lift more, not less) but actually a structural and CG limiter to Alpha as G. It was so weak that the early Gs could not in fact change wing sweeps when the plane was loaded up, honking on all of 4.5G.

What the MiG-23 COULD do was energize a weapon pole like nobodies business and then bleed turn with the wings at full sweep, unload and wick right on back through Mach Wow. It was a veritable rocket.

Hence, the SAAF's surprise when the Cubans started fielding the R-60B with the equivalent of AIM-9P4/P5 performance. The weapons platform being what gives the little Aphid the 'little motor that could' FQ ability of a 90lb missile with a Mach 1.35 launch boost. Zero weapon drag and boosted Mach at launch translates to a 4-5 mile ranging weapon at medium altitudes.

Stack back with Kuban Shelf tactics and you have Parthian Archer thing going whereby wide-set SAAF pilots cannot turn away from the threat and drag him in front of another shooter because the Cubans will simply run another MiG right down the wingman's throat too.

The SAAF couldn't match this with the Kukri and so sent off a 'Hulp!' to Israel for what became the V3s 'Slang' aka Python 3. With a 220lb munition weight and the massive ND-10 motor, this was a transmerge IRM and while it was draggy as feather boa in in a hurricane, it was (just) small enough to be carried outboard, without having to sacrifice wing tanks-

http://i43.tinypic.com/s4f9.jpg

This once more made the Mirages king of the skies, though it was a tenuous dominance because the Python needs full radar support and a longish tracking period (like the R530 in a way) before launch and so the threat knows you're there, for sure.

This is not altogether bad in and of itself, but the fairly narrow bore limits of the Python restrict it's ability to rapidly multi-service targets and against a high speed, Company Front skirmish line you can still find yourself eating Aphid.

The real problem however; especially towards the end of the war, was the fact that the Russians were simply willing to replace every loss as an excuse to field test, not just their fighters but their IADS/ADGE systems too.

This pushed the Mirages right back down into the weeds to avoid early tracking by a numerically superior threat and while the F-1AZ was fairly comfortable there (moving map, doppler nav, tailored EXCM/tail warner suite) the loss of position meant that the Floggers could set up their own advantaged geometry, almost uncontested and then simply ramp down onto the ingressing SAAF cards from behind the 3/9.

Had the war in Angola and SWA gone on much longer, it would have become very difficult for the South Africans to continue to do their famous 'externals' in support of SADF raider teams as they were not getting any spares or replacements for combat losses and while Atlas was a good enough home grown manufacturer; they could not compete with the USSR's ability to replace losses two and three times over as they did when the Angolans wrecked things.

SA-6b with the Buk missile and Flat Face replacement radar, late series SA-8 and the SA-13 were all first encountered in the Bush War, with examples being handed on to the CIA. The majority of the threat air defense was of course still AAA but the real killers were going to be the MANPADS which the SAAF flew heart-of-envelope through. Get into that 20,000 dollar per weapon bryar patch with a Vlamgaat and you're going to suffer the same fate as the Israeli A-4N that rolled in on a PLO shoulder fire training school in South Lebanon and took a total of 50 launches, straight to the teeth.

It was this 'Early A2AD' experience of what the future would look like that drove the SAAF to start looking at MUPSOW, Raptor and now the Umbani.

http://www.saairforce.co.za/seed/public/files/weapon_images/54/45e2c27f5bc33_large.jpg
http://www.armscontrolwonk.com/files/2015/11/Raptor1.jpg
http://www.saairforce.co.za/seed/public/files/article_images/1015/4e317a687ae39_large.jpg

Because they knew, before we did, that it was simply no longer going to be practical to use Laydown PGM, even with Stealth, and they could not afford a comprehensive SEAD plan the way the Israelis had, with UAVs, decoys and ground launch ARM, for the Mole Cricket Bekaa campaigns.

It's always better to buy new bullets and better scopes than new rifles and while a smart weaponeer plans his purchases to match the strengths of his existing platform capabilities, the reality is quite simply that you often end up finding a ground launch cruise or ballistic weapon is a better option than a bussed LGB/IAM as the cost differential also buys you a fast targeting UAV like Compass Dawn, Mirach or Reis-D.

It should be remembered that 70% of the targeting in Vietnam was done, not by RF-101, Vigilante or RF-4C but rather the lowly AQM-34 series and 'target drone' conversions are potentially alsothe basis of highly effective GLCM for the simple reason that they are designed around portable stand rather than complex TEL tubed launch (no retractable surfaces etc.).

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On the topic of the thread...on the SAAF forum a while ago, there was some very interesting info (by a fellow working on some aspects of the programme) on where the Mirage F1 was ultimately to be taken to...avionics, weapons systems, and aerodynamically/motive wise.
A real "Super" Mirage F1 if you will.

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Great post LEG.

Indeed, the SAAF went first into expanded ECM (internal, podded, and Boeing 707) and expanded weapons envelopes - R-Darter BVRAAM and developed and expanded V3 helmet guided missile (Kukri was an export designation)......but there was a great move toward proper stand-off strike weaponry. .quite a slew of them in fact.

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"Had the war in Angola and SWA continued much longer" I think it would have been a short waiting game for the SADF until the USSR collapsed. Not foreseen at the time but it happened very suddenly soon after the end of hostilities. If I remember correctly Cheetah E was in service at the end but not really used for anything other than QRA. But Cheetah C was in the works. One wonders if SA could have held out long enough for Soviet/Cuban aid to dry up?

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Yes.
Only a fraction of manpower was deployed to Angola (a peak of 3000 during Operations Modular, Packer, and Hooper which were the peaks themselves.)

The main issue regarding this thread was the sanctions regime, preventing replacement of existing fighters or procurement of newer ones.
This however was being addressed, with the interim Cheetah E upgrade, followed by the Cheetah C (additional airframes added to the inventory from external source) which in turn was to leverage into the Super Mirage F-1 with aerodynamic changes and Cheetah C systems...followed by the Carver indigineous combat jet.
In other words, a sensible and proper graduated programme.

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On the topic of the Super Mirage F-1 as being developed by Atlas, the gentleman involved with the project stated he was on the avionics side of the project.
Their brief was basically to ensure that the Cheetah C and Super Mirage F-1 share complete commonality in avionics/cockpit etc.
He was aware of the other sides that other teams were working on.
He basically described the project as follows:
The nose and cockpit were basically the same as the Cheetah C. I assume this includes the canopy.
An in-flight refuelling probe was to be installed. Not the same as the Mirage F-1AZ. I assume the same as Cheetah C?
The tail vertical stabilizer/fin was different, having an enlarged fairing at its base similar to an F-16.
There were other refinements/changes he didn't elaborate on.

This was to follow the Cheetah C programme.
The Mirage III's were withdrawn fir upgrading to Cheetah E standard. The Cheetah C was following. Once the C was in service, it would allow the F1 to be withdrawn to be upgraded.
The F-1 therefore might even have had an engine replacement before the Cheetah C.
All of this would have been followed and eventually replaced by Carver.
Some (but not all) of this initial F-1 work was later leveraged into the Spanish Mirage F-1 cockpit upgrade.

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Sorry, just an addenda..The forum has a crappy edit function especially via phone. .

Both F-1 CZ interceptor and AZ strike were to be upgraded into a new identical common multirole platform/configuration.

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The engine choice being a version of the Russian RD33 I presume?

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I assume the motive side closely followed the Carver's engine choices.
There was an upgraded ATAR 9K50 with internal changes, including single crystal blades and different C ombustion chamber etc, that was to yield a +10% performance increase.
There were reports of the Snecma M53 and M88 being looked at.
And then obviously the RD33 based SMR-95 that was actually fitted to and flown in a Mirage F-1 And Cheetah.

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Pioneer said:

Speaking about lack of hardpoints on the Mirage F1, when needing external carriage of chaff/flare and ECM, I'm surprised that Dassault never considered employing the 'over-wing hardpoint' arrangement used by later SEPECAT Jaguar International! This in essence would have freed up the wing-tip hardpoints otherwise used for Matra 550 Magic/Aim-9 Sidewinder SRAAM's to carry flare/chaff pods!

I completely agree with expendable soft-kill deficiencies. But disagree with your proposed solution.

Over-wing hardpoints pose all sorts of problems which wingtip don't.
The French had a very near 'armpit' solution for chaff and flares for their Jaguras (I have no idea if it was actually fielded) which I think would have suited the F1 just as well.
(Certainly much better than the RAFs idea of stuffing some under the airbrakes).

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The SAAF looked at 2 methods.
One was a set of flare and chaff pods on each wing between the inner wing hardpoint and the fuselage, as well as a rather elegant solution that replaced the original ventral rear fins with a slightly wider new design that housed the chaff and flares.
This was part of the RIMS. (Radar and Infrared Misleading System)
This ensured no weapons pylons were used for that at least.
There are some pictures of the system kicking around on the web that a google search should reveal.

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Interestingly, the SAAF approached that with two solutions.
One was a new "mini pylon" that housed chaff and flares, situated inboard on each wing between the fuselage and existing inner wing weapons pylon.
Also, a rather elegant solution was replacing the existing rear ventral fins with a slightly wider new design that housed the chaff and flares.
This was part of the Radar and Infrared Misleading System or RIMS.
This ensured that no weapons pylon was taken up by that capability.

A few pics of these can be found kicking around on the web after a google search.

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It's amazing that the forum functionality appears to have actually gone seriously backwards over the years. Inability to properly edit posts. stuff lost in the ether.. etc
It's A LOT worse than it was a decade ago. That takes some doing.

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The French had a very near 'armpit' solution for chaff and flares for their Jaguras (I have no idea if it was actually fielded) which I think would have suited the F1 just as well.

It was named LLP (Lance Leurres Plaqué) and fielded on both platforms.

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On the engine side, was any thought given to the Spey? Any attempt to obtain some clandestinely? Only reason I ask is that they were used by 24 Squadron’s Buccaneers.

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MATRA Corail chaff flare dispensers can be mounted in fairings that looked like stub pylons, between the inboard wing pylon and the fuselage root of the Mirage F-1. A further Alkan Lacroix flare ejector could be inserted in place of the dragchute cover and the ventral fins (on the SAAF models) were thickened with their own ejectors.

http://i18.servimg.com/u/f18/09/01/13/73/489_gu10.jpg

https://www.flightglobal.com/FlightPDFArchive/1989/1989%20-%203244.PDF

All told, you might have maybe 120 expendables. The Israeli standard is around 400, minimum.

The problem with all EXCM options are three fold:

1. With the exception of toweds, they are a reactive measure which means you are already past the suppression or delay of acquisition/tracking phase. You can still defeat the missile but the measure is so transient that if you are in a SARH vs. IRH fight, you can end up Emperor's New Clothes conditioned, really fast. A-10s with 16 buckets worth of RR-180 series chaff (theoretically 288 cartridges) were SCREAMING for SEAD packages the few times they got sent north to hunt SCUDs in unreduced air defense missile trap arenas. The Hawg community was furious because the worthless F-16s were dropping Mk.84s on 'area targets' just across the FSCL in Kuwait.

2. Pilots don't like to fly straight and level when being shot at. Which means that the expendable burst has to be correctly patterned from buckets at the middle and end of the jet, doubling the use rate, even with very rapid-blooming/kinematic lightoff to provide proper obscuration of the target signature (why modern flares are so 'smokey' is to block as much as dazzle staring arrays from seeing the airframe silhouette image). Rotate the velocity vector to escape the tracking cell in this brief breaklock window period and you knock 100-150 knots off the jet in honoring the threat. While burner use to honk the nose back around to return the favor makes you a VERY bright target for a threat which is doing shoot-shoot-look combinations with R-24R/T or quad launcher R-60.

3. Where you are at very low level, the threat can kill you with very cheap, shoulder fire, weapons from atop every termite mound in saturation mode. Threat reaction window is measured in hundredths of a second and without an effective MAWS, you can be dead before you are aware of the shot.

Given the era and other collaborations, I'm assuming Armscor or Atlas simply went to the CIA for surplus ALQ-101V(10) or Elta and picked up a few EL-8202 pods, they would not have had access to the Thomson Barem or Electronica/Selennia (ALQ-234) alternatives due to the arms embargo.

The problem here is that of coverage. SPJs, even when celled up, have very little ability to act in a suppression (SOJAM) mode (not enough ERPs wattage) and if you are on the deck to avoid EWR cue, the horizons are very short and your look up angles against threat DCA, almost non existent. Essentially, the threat SHORADS sees you and lights off, well within burn-thru range and the interceptors just ramp down ontop of you. A Mirage F-1 is not going to outrun a MiG-23 with 10,000ft of burner acceleration.

And of course, the trashfire doesn't care.

This is why the USAF never bought into the European lawnmower approach to penetration. We had lost too many 105s, screaming down the karst of Thud Ridge, to be suckered into avoiding the radar threats by tackling the 100X greater density of AAA. And we never faced MANPADS over RP5/6 (did over the HCMT and were thrown off it).

Short of Real Money for a complete SEAD systems aggregate, the only way to kill a threat IADS is to either sabotage it with commando raiders taking out key radars and hunting down TELARs so that you can hit the sites blind. Or to use indirect ALCM/GLCM and simply force the threat to shoot at a lot smaller targets.

'Somewhere' in Langley or Wright Pat I'm sure there is still a photo taken from a BQM-34 flying so low that the cameras tripped when the drone flew under a telephone line, just south of Hanoi. That drone flew something like 200 missions in a bait and geolocate mode with another drone flying about 5-10km to the side of it's ground track, watching the North Vietnamese get their mad on as radars coming up and AAA bursts were all ELINT'd and Photographed.

People actually cried when that Lightning Bug was finally lost: 'somewhere, up there'. But they also knew that it was about 190 missions more than a manned recce asset would have gotten away with.

Where they failed to make the connection was in seeing how very easy it is make a GLCM out of exactly this kind of system with the option (including RAM and contrail suppression tanks) of high or low penetration /instead of/ sending manned packages.

Considering that primitive versions of TERCOM and DSMAC had been around since the Navajo, that was a real shame.

We lost 320 out of 833 F-105s at roughly 2.2 million apiece in 1970. At 530% inflation, that's roughly 4 billion dollars in hardware at 2017 prices.

With 40-60 million dollar force structure leverage on the JAS-39 and very long replacement production lag, even now that ZA is 'readmitted' to the world community; you simply cannot afford that kind of writeoff risk to a todesfarht by penetrating tacair. A couple bad sorties and you not only collapse your combined DCA/OCA/INT sortie generation for the next day's home defense, but you leave people badly exposed on the pointy end. See: Argentine Mirage III pulled out of the Falklands to defend Buenos Aires against the 'Vulcan Menace' Thatcher threatened when they had all but destroyed the SHAR CAP the previous day with long range Super 530 shots.

See the sudden shortfall in counterair missions over Stanley when a couple of SHAR got shot up by the Skyguard 35mm system and the GR.3s not yet ready, leaving the RN with a set of hard choices between defending the Falklands Sound anchorage and TF Corporate itself with less than a squadron of ready aircraft generated, each day as CANA/FAA were seemingly supplying 'a ship kill per foray'.

Fighters have the energy to maneuver for position, either in getting squint angle for LOROP/SAR or in Poling up missiles against counter strikes by equivalent threats. But without stealth and standoff munitions, they should never be used as a penetrating asset in an A2AD environment. Even with dedicted DEAD equipment and training, it's just not worth the cost in sorties.