The Dassault Mirage F1 was a single-engine fighter aircraft, designed to function as both an interceptor aircraft and as a capable ground attack platform. While officially developed for the French Air Force as a capable air defense aircraft, Dassault Aviation had placed considerable emphasis on developing the Mirage F1 for ground attack duties as a secondary role during its early design. Developed by the company to function as a successor to the successful Mirage III and Mirage 5 families, it drew heavily upon its predecessors as well, sharing the same fuselage as the Mirage III, while adopting a considerably different wing configuration.
The Mirage F1 used a shoulder-mounted swept wing, instead of the Delta wing of the Mirage III, which resulted in a more than 50% reduction in required runway lengths and increased internal fuel tankage for 40% greater combat range. The approach speed prior to landing is 25% less than the preceding Mirage IIIE. According to Dassault, the negative performance impact associated with the increased thickness of the Mirage F1’s wing over the Mirage III’s counterpart had been offset by improvements made to the propulsion system. The wing is fitted with both double-slotted trailing edge flaps and full-span leading edge slats, the latter being automatically operated to reduce the aircraft’s turn radius during combat.
The Mirage F1CZ was delivered to 3 Squadron of the South African Airforce in 1975. A total of 16 F1CZ were delivered to Waterkloof. They were in operation until the squadron was disbanded in September 1992.