Mirage 4000, Dassault-Breguet

Mirage 4000 Dassault

The twin-engined Mirage 4000 was developed by Dassault, presumably to be used in a high/low mix with the Mirage 2000. It was virtually a scaled-up Mirage 2000. The French air force showed no interest in this canarded delta. No production.

Type: Mirage 4000
Country: France
Function: fighter
Year: 1979
Crew: 1
Engines: 2 * 8500kg SNECMA M53-2
Wing Span: 12.0 m
Length: 18.70 m
Height: 5.80 m
Wing Area: 73.00 m2
Empty Weight: 13000 kg
Speed: 2445 km/h
Ceiling: 20000 m
Range: +2000 km
Armament: 2*g30mm 8000 kg payload

In September 1975, M Marcel Dassault announced that Dassault-Breguet would develop a one-third scaled-up twin-turbofan powered version of the Mirage 2000 at their own expense. Originally called the Super Mirage Delta and then the Super Mirage 4000, it was to be used mainly for interception and low-altitude penetration. The prototype, No. 01/F-ZWRM, was unveiled in December 1977.

On its first flight, on 9 March 1979 at Istres, it reached Mach 1.2, piloted by Jean-Marie Saget. It reached Mach 1.6 on its second flight and, on its sixth flight (on 11 April), it reached Mach 2.04 and flew at angles of attack of up to 25° during a spin analysis. It performed that June at the Paris airshow. At the end of 1980, the aircraft had about 100 flying hours. M53-5 engines were added by 1981, replacing the -P2s. In 1982 it flew in interceptor and attack configurations at Farnborough.

The Mirage 4000 made use of computer-derived aerodynamics, with a fly-by-wire active control system and a rearward CG. It was designed to be easy to maintain on forward airfields. It also had variable-incidence sweptback foreplanes and a blister-type cockpit canopy with a 360° FOV. Boron and carbon fiber composites were used extensively in the fin, rudder, elevons, fuselage access panels, foreplanes, and other parts. The wings had large-radius root fairings. The entire trailing edge of each wing was taken up by two-section elevons. Variable camber was provided by automatic full-span leading-edge flaps. The rear fuselage was shorter, which made Karman fairings unnecessary. The rudder, elevons, and flaps were actuated by the fly-by-wire control system. The vertical fin was made of carbon composite and contained fuel tanks, which helped to give the 4000 about three times as much internal fuel as the Mirage 2000 (other fuel tanks were in the wings and fuselage). The fuselage was of conventional semi-monocoque structure. Door-type airbrakes were located in each intake trunk above the wings' leading edges. The tricycle landing gear was designed by Messier-Hispano-Bugatti and had twin nose wheels and a single wheel on each main unit. Each intake had a moveable half-cone centerbody. The two M53s provided a thrust-to-weight ratio of above 1:1 - if it had entered service, it would have been equivalent to the F-15 or the Su-27.

When possible, systems and avionics were adapted from the Mirage 2000. The hydraulic system was made by Messier-Hispano-Bugatti, and was pressurized to 280 bars (4,000 lb/sq in). It was powered by four advanced pumps and used lightweight titanium pipelines. The Mirage 4000 also used two Auxilec electric generators. In a compartment behind the pilot was a Turboméca Palouste gas turbine APU (to start the engines). The prototype used the same RDM multi-mode Doppler radar as the Mirage 2000, but a radar as big as 80 cm (31.5 in) in diameter could fit in the very large nose radome. Other avionics included a digital autopilot, multi-mode displays, a SAGEM Uliss 52 INS, a Crouzet Type 80 air data computer, a Thomson-CSF VE-130 HUD, and a digital automated weapon delivery system.

By the time that the mock-up was displayed, Saudi Arabia had been funding development, and by 1980, Defence Minister Prince Sultan Ubn Abdul Aziz said that they were considering acquiring them. France's defence committee ruled that 50 Mirage 4000s should be acquired to replace the Mirage IV. However, no orders materialized, mainly because of its high cost (and because the Mirage 2000 was a better value). In 1986, Dassault re-activated the Mirage 4000 (and renamed it 'Mirage 4000,' from 'Super Mirage 4000') and re-painted it with desert camouflage on the upper surfaces. It was used as a chase plane and a testbed for the Rafale program (researching the behaviour of a canard-delta configuration in turbulence). It appeared at Paris in 1987. In 1995 it was transferred to Paris again as a permanent exhibit outside the Musée de l'Air et de l'Espace.

At the end of 2005 the Indian Air Force (IAF) allegedly showed interest in this plane as their new Air Superiority Fighter. Although India is satisfied with its arsenal of MiG-29 and Sukhoi-30, it wants an alternative to Russia-developed aircraft in case there are problems in acquiring spare hardware.

Dassault-Breguet Mirage 4000 Specifications
TypeMultirole combat aircraft
PowerplantTwo 22,046 lb thrust SNECMA M53 afterburning turbofans
AccommodationPilot only, on a Martin-Baker F10R zero-zero ejection seat, under a starboard-opening transparent canopy (a two-seat version was under study)
ArmamentTwo 30-mm DEFA cannon in lower air intakes plus twelve hardpoints (six under fuselage, six underwing, and one centerline) allowing carriage of up to 8,000kg (17,620 lb) of stores including bombs, AAMs and ASMs such as Magics and Exocets, rocket pods, or a buddy refuelling pod. 2550 L (550 Imp gal) drop tanks could be located under each wing and on the centerline. The 4000 carried two fuel tanks, two Sycamor jamming pods, two Magic AAMs, a laser designator, two AS30Ls, two 1000kg LGBs, and a podded Antilope radar during the 1928 Farnborough airshow
Max speedMach 2.3 (2333 km/h / 1260 kts / 1450 mph) at altitude
Service ceiling20,000 m (65,600 ft)
Radius w/ fuel tanks and recce pod1850 km (100 nm/1150 mi)
Initial Climb Rate18,300 m/min (60,024 ft/min)
Empty, refuelled6500 kg (14,320 lb)
Max payload3500 kg (7710 lb)
Landing10,400 kg (22,910 lb)
MTOW12,500 kg (27,590 lb)
Wingspan12 m (39 ft 4.5 in)
Length18.7 m (61 ft 4.25 in)
Height5.8 m (19 ft)
Wheelbase6.9 m (22 ft 7.5 in)
Wheel track4.36 m (14 ft 3.5 in)
Wing area73 m² (786sq ft)

Text : Alex Stoll

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