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Mirage III V: France's VTOL Attempt

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During the 1960s there was a great drive to develop VTOL (Vertical Take-Off and Landing) aircraft. Many aircraft were designed, but most of these projects ended in failure. Only two aircraft - the BAE Systems Harrier and Yakovlev Yak-38 - were put into production. One of France's greatest attempts was the Mirage III V, which was successful in many ways. Its most impressive achievement was high speed - today it still holds the record for the fastest VTOL aircraft, having achieved a top speed of Mach 2. However, after numerous crashes and the deaths of test pilots, the project was finally abandoned and France never received a VTOL fighter.

Contents of the article:

  • Early VTOL history around the world
  • A brief history of French VTOL aircraft, including the Dassault Cavalier
  • The Balzac VTOL demonstrator
  • Balzac flight testing
  • International agreements regarding the Mirage III V
  • A description of the Mirage III V, including test flights
  • The two prototype Mirage III Vs, Mirage III V 01 and Mirage III V 02
  • The end of the Mirage III V programme