Government Aircraft Factories
(GAF) Dassault Mirage F1
Number 75 Sqd, RAAF, 1986
In 1961 the delta wing Mirage III was ordered into production for the RAAF with an initial order for 100 aircraft (98 being built in Australia). The delta wing had a number of inherent penalties; whilst allowing for high speed, actual maneuverability and low level gust response was very ordinary.
The Mirage F1 first flew in 1967 and entered service in the French Air Force (Armée de l'Air) in 1974. The delta design was replaced with a conventional wing. The engine was still pretty much the same but with thrust increased by ~10 %
Although it had a smaller wingspan than its predecessor, the F1 nevertheless proved to be superior. It could carry up to 43% more fuel (almost doubling its range with a higher ordnance load), had a shorter take-off run, lower landing speed and far better maneuverability.
By 1970 the French were lobbying the Liberal government of Australia with the offer of a partnership to co-produce the F1 for the ‘Asian market’; even if the RAAF was not very interested, as they had their eye on the future U.S. ‘teen’ fighters under development.
In 1971, the Prime Minister, William McMahon announced that the F1 was to be manufactured under license and, that it would indeed, be placed into service with the RAAF to replace the high attrition losses of the Mirage III.
A total of 70 were eventually produced: 45 for the RAAF, 16 for the RNZAF with the remainder being sold to the air forces of Malaysia and Singapore.
This deal was actually on the cards. Could have happened, but didn’t: Billy and the Libs were given the arse in ’72 by Gough! The deal went with them.
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