Translated by BabelFish
One of the most remarkable characteristics of the strategic bombers designed during Forties and Fifties is without any doubt their longevity not very common. When these apparatuses were developed, the engineers who carried them out thought that their career would not exceed ten years and that they would undoubtedly be replaced by more modern machines. Only the most powerful nations were able to ensure a succession the strategic bombers of first generation with which they had been provided, and the others had to be satisfied to renovate the planes in service. During the decade 1960-1970, because of appearance of systems of air defense much more effective, the apparatuses designed to operate at high altitude from now on were reserved for missions of penetration at low altitude, the nuclear bombs which they carried being replaced by missiles usable remotely of safety. Some of these planes, such as the Victor and Valiant British or M-4 "Bison" Soviet, were assigned to other tasks. On the other hand, Boeing B-52 continuous with being employed for the strategic attack within the US Air Force and will be used for this purpose during long years. Such is also the case of Dassault Mirage IV. Contrary to the three countries (the United States, Soviet Union and the United Kingdom) which preceded it in the circle very closed by the nuclear powers, France obtained only one type of strategic bomber. Bearing the generic name of a line of famous apparatuses, Mirage IV constituted one of the essential elements of French dissuasion during twenty last years. This plane is today at the dawn of a new career, and it could be that it remains in service during still a decade. It is a true performance, concerning a machine designed to only serve ten years.
Its denomination and its configuration are there to prove that Mirage IV is connected with the line resulting from the hunter Dassault Mirage III. In April 1957, when the development of the future French strategic bomber started, Dassault was able to meet the official requirements by producing a plane with dimensions higher from approximately 50% than those of Mirage III and than doubled wing surface. The new aircraft, which was regarded only as one machine of transition, while waiting for the realization of a plane to the greatest capacities, was equipped with two engines; it was to profit from an enough important operating range to tackle objectives located in Soviet Union starting from French bases and to be posed on the closest aerodromes of NATO. France was to be then equipped with a bomber three times bulkier, than it never developed because of the financial constraints which this program supposed. It acquired of a dozen Boeing C-135F of in-flight refueling to close to the United States in order to increasing the autonomy of its Mirage IV.
Anatomy of Mirage IV
This decision made it possible to give to the missions entrusted to the strategic bomber -- that some qualified semi-suicides -- a less random character. Contrary to the planes of some combined of NATO, which could penetrate in Soviet territory by the sides, in particular by the Baltic, Mirage IV should take roads passing by the Central Europe, where the anti-aircraft defences of the adversary were remarkably dense and effective. For this reason, the Air Force had claimed a plane with the supersonic capacities, being able to cross the networks of ground-to-air missiles at high subsonic speed then being in measurement to climb and to accelerate until Mach 2 before carrying out its final attack.
Gone up in flattened position, the aerofoil in delta of Mirage IV shows an arrow of 60° at the edge of attack, which confers on this plane a very clear resemblance to Mirage III. Dimensions of the French strategic bomber being much higher than those of Mirage III, the engineers could give to its wings a configuration adapted better to the supersonic flight. The robust alloys which make the structure of the apparatus allowed the adoption of structural fuel tanks. of aerofoil. To increase the autonomy of the plane, the drift was also equipped with a tank, the wings having been equipped, as on Mirage III, of elevons and air-brakes. The air intake of the engines, placed on each side of the fuselage, has mobile half-cones carrying the nickname of mouse. The propulsion is ensured by two turbojets afterburning Atar 09K providing a push of 4 700 kg dry and 6 700 kg with reheating. For takeoffs with the maximum weight, the plane can be equipped with rocket engines JATO assembled under the wings. The pilot sat well in front of the air intake of the engines, in a cockpit equipped with the air conditioning and protected from the effects of the kinetic, consecutive heating at the speeds which the apparatus in flight of cruising can reach.
Placed in a cockpit which comprises only two small windows, the navigator is in charge of the handling and the monitoring of a certain number of systems, of which cartographic radar CSF placed under the belly of the apparatus. Behind circular radome in which the aforementioned radar is installed finds the housing of nuclear weapon AN-22. The bomb with free fall of origin was replaced since 1967 by a machine slowed down by parachute, adapted better to the missions of attack at low altitude assigned with the plane. This weapon posts a weight of 750 kg, representing half of that of the first version of the AN-22. The navigator has a detector of alarm standard radar Thomson-CSF BF and equipment of jamming whose characteristics were not revealed. Protection counters the homing head missiles with infra-reds is consisted ejectors of thermal lures Philips-Matra Phimat assembled on the pylons external of aerofoil. The interior pylons accomodate auxiliary fuel tanks of 2500 L.
Equipped with an angular and large-sized vertical stabilizer, the prototype of Mirage IV took the air on 17 June 1959, propelled by two Atar 09C. The plane n° 02, which flew for the first time on October 12, 1961, presented a configuration close to that of the machines of series and was redésigné Mirage IVA. Between the flights of these two aircraft, France had exploded its first bomb A. There were two other planes of preproduction, of which the n° 03, equipped with a pole of in-flight refueling in the front point in order to carry out tests. The n° 04 accepted engines Atar 09K and a complete avionics, the n° 03 having been equipped with Doppler Marconi, of a Dassault calculator, a system of countermeasures and an autopilot SFENA.
The first fifty Mirage IVA, ordered in 1960, were followed by a batch of twelve planes produced between December 1963 and November 1966. January 1, 1964 was formed the command of the strategic air forces (COFAS), whose mission was to manage the controlled deterrent force with which France intended to be equipped initially. The first squadron of Mirage IVA was declared operational the let October 1964, and, February 1, 1966, nine formations had been setting-up, with, each one, four airliners. A few weeks later, France announced that it left the integrated military organization of NATO and that it would assume from now on only the responsibility for its own defense. The realization of this process, wanted by General de Gaulle, had been mainly made possible by the service entrance of Mirage IVA.
France not having the possibility of permanently maintaining in the air a certain number of its strategic bombers, in order to answer any nuclear aggression, a compromise was adopted, and each squadron had to be in measurement to take off a plane fifteen minutes after the beginning of an alarm. Ballistic ground-to-ground missiles being associated with the French deterrent power, the number of squadrons of Mirage IVA was tiny room with six in June 1976 then to four in October 1983. The center of instruction of the strategic air forces (CIFAS) was in charge of the use of a detachment of four Mirage IVA assigned to strategic reconnaissance missions. These planes were equipped with a nacelle of sensors CT.52 of a size and a configuration identical to those of bomb AN-22. This nacelle is composed of oblique cameras, vertical or directed towards the front one, such as of Omera 35 and 36, as well as cartographic camera Wildt. It can also equipped with a system of sweeping for infra-reds SAT Super Cyclone instead of Omera 36.
The withdrawal of the version of bombardment being envisaged for 1985, Mirage IV of recognition should have been the only ones to remain in service. The first evidence of a prolongation of the operational life of these apparatuses occurred in 1979, when the authorities announced that fifteen Mirage IV (the number was changed to eighteen thereafter) were going to be modified in order to be able to carry the missile Aérospatiale ASMP, whose contract of development had been signed in April 1978. It acts of a 5,38 m length machine, able to reach Mach 3, propelled by a ramjet with kerosene and whose launching is ensured by a rocket engine solid fuel. Its range is 75 to 100 km, and its guidance towards the objective, to very little distance of the ground, returns to an inertial platform SAGEM.
To allow the ASMP to arrive until his objective, the navigator must feed the inertial platform of the missile with data coming from the system of navigation from Mirage IVP. Several modifications were necessary to adapt a plane designed during the Fifties to a missile produced during the Seventies. The ventral radome of Mirage IV shelters now the antenna of Doppler with impulses Thomson-CSF ARCANA (apparatus of retiming and cartography for navigation plugs), derived from the Iguana and the MONITOR gone up respectively on Dassault-Breguet Atlantique 2 and Dassault-Breguet Gardian. The Doppler system with impulses makes it possible to collect images radar with very high resolution by all times, making it possible to feed in precise data the inertial platform of Mirage IV.
Although it must also arm two other planes left the factories Dassault-Breguet, the Super Standard and the Mirage 2000N, the missile was designed at the beginning to be adapted to the Mirage IVP, which was employed for the initial output tests of this weapon. Initially, the cell of the prototype third of Mirage IV was used for the static tests of the pylon on which the ASMP was to be assembled. Then, in 1981, Mirage IVA n° 8 carried out the first shootings of a full-scale model of ASMP, and true launchings started in June 1983. The problems arising from the combination of a rocket engine for the dropping and a ramjet for the flight of cruising having been solved, the tests of the ASMP were completed in the middle of 1985.
P for penetration
In the interval, in 1982, Mirage IVA n° 8 had been transformed into prototype of the version carrying the ASMP. During some time, the apparatus carried the designation of Mirage IVN (N for Nuclear power), then this one was transformed into Mirage IVP (P for Penetration). In this configuration, Mirage IV was to either fly over the objective there to release its bomb, but to carry out missions hi-lo-hi at a distance of 4 000 km with in-flight refueling. These modifications in the tasks allotted to Mirage IV involved the remotorisation of the fleet of C-135F with the dual flow jet engine CFM56 (these apparatuses were renamed C-135FR).
Finished in October 1982, Mirage IVP n°01 was tested by Dassault-Breguet before being dispatched in the center of military air experiments (CEAM) of Mount-of-Marsan, the le' July 1983. Mirage IVP being equipped with a new avionics, the team of evaluation of the CEAM presented an unusual composition, its command being ensured by a navigator, contrary to the tradition, which wanted that it returned to a pilot. Mirage IVP n°2 (ex-Mirage IVA n° 28) accomplished its initial flight during May 1983 and was employed primarily by Dassault at ends of tests. On its side, Mirage IV n° 01 was used for the program of shooting of the ASMP.
The eighteen Mirage IVP which equips the Air Force were modified with the industrial workshop of the Air of Aulnat-Clermont-Ferrand. The first apparatus, arrived on the spot in October 1983, was taken into account by the CEAM in February 1985. More important operations of transformation could be necessary, certain planes having exceeded five thousand hours of flight (whereas the total lifespan of Mirage IV is estimated at seven thousand five hundred hours). The change of the principal members will take a lead in the machines which will arrive at six thousand five hundred hours.
Only two squadrons were equipped with Mirage IVP. The first of them, the squadron of bombardment 1/91 Gascogne, based with Mount-of-Marsan, was declared operational on May 1, 1986, and the squadron of bombardment 2/91 Brittany took into account his first planes in December 1986. Six other Mirage IVP were allotted to the CIFAS-328 in order to allow the training of. It remains just enough of Mirage IVA to constitute a wheel of reserve and to maintain a squadron operational with nuclear weapon AN-22. It acts of the squadron of bombardment 2/94 the Marne, based in Saint-Dizier and who maintains a detachment with Cambrai.
Reduced in important proportions by the dissolution of three squadrons in 1976 and by the disappearance of three others between 1983 and 1986, the fleet of Mirage IV of the Air Force will remain in service during ten years. Such was the duration envisaged of the career of the apparatus when it made its appearance, during the year 1964.