One group of aircraft that has always caught my attention are the combat aircraft made by Dassault. Of the various jets the Mirage IV is one I'm glad I got to see fly when I was stationed in Europe during the 80's and 90's.
The Mirage IV was designed in the late 50's as a high speed intermediate range strategic nuclear bomber. It entered service in 1964 with the French Air Force and served in in both a strategic bomber and a deep reconnaissance roles until it was retired in 2005. The Mirage IV was comparable in mission and performance to he USAF F-111 and USN A-5 Vigilante that are of the same era.
Powered by a pair SNECMA ATAR 9K-50 afterburning turbojets the Mirage IV could reach a maximum speed in of mach 2.2 and had a combat radius in excess of 800 miles, or longer when aerial refueling was used. The base Mirage IV A flew until the late 70's when it was decided that a free fall weapon dropping bomber was to vulnerable too advanced SAM systems. The French Air Force made the decision to modify 18 examples to the Mirage IVP were it could carry either a ASMP stand off missile or a CT-52 recon pod on the centerline. By 1996 the Mirage IV was relieved of its nuclear strike mission but is flew on until 2005 as a recon jet.
The Mirage IV has the classic Dassault delta wing configuration and is flown by a pilot and a bombardier/navigator. One cool thing was while preforming the nuclear strike alert role the Mirage IV was equipped with JATO bottles for take off.
|JATO take off|
|Recon pod on the centerline|