Dassault Mirage IIIC

The Dassault Mirage III is a family of single-seat, single-engine, fighter aircraft developed and manufactured by French aircraft company Dassault Aviation. It was the first Western European combat aircraft to exceed Mach 2 in horizontal flight.

During 1952, the French government issued its specification, calling for a lightweight, all-weather interceptor. Amongst the respondents were Dassault with their design, initially known as the MD.550 Mystère-Delta and later renamed as the Mirage I. Following favourable flight testing held during 1955, in which speeds of up to Mach 1.6 were attained, it was decided that a larger follow-on aircraft would be required to bear the necessary equipment and payloads. An enlarged Mirage II proposal was considered, but was discarded in favour of a further-developed design, powered by the newly developed Snecma Atar afterburning turbojet engine, designated as the Mirage III. During October 1960, the first major production model, designated as the Mirage IIIC, performed its maiden flight. Initial operational deliveries of this model commenced during July 1961; a total of 95 Mirage IIICs were obtained by the French Air Force. The Mirage IIIC was rapidly followed by numerous other variants.