The Spey Mirage


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From Flight, 27th of January 1966, some editorial opinion and technical details.


We can only hope that the case for Spey Mirage will be given more than the superficial hearing that it has had so far at the highest levels.

Hope springs eternal, and then is dashed upon the altar of political ignorance... :(

The case for the Spey Mirage has been presented in the right quarters, but we have yet to hear any effective case against it. In the Commons debate on December 13 the previous Minister of Aviation, Mr Roy Jenkins, rebuffed several hours forceful questioning by saying that its performance did not match that of the F - l l l ; that it might ("I do not say more than might") be a barrier to the Anglo-French VG aircraft; and that it would not be in service until 1972

'Would not be in service until 1972' - should have thought of that before you cancelled the TSR-2 mate! :mad:

...The Spey-Mirage equipped with a nav/ attack system equivalent to that of TSR.2 could be made available in the latter half of 1969, given a go-head now...

...Nav / Attack System This would be essentially similar to that of the UK Phantoms and Buccaneer S.2Star...

...The reconnaissance pack would be essentially identical to that developed for TSR.2...

...Although the Mirage IVA for the Armee de l'Air was built for the high-altitude nuclear-strike role, it satisfies the requirements for low altitude operation in two important respects. These are fatigue life and gust response...

...Maximum speed at low level (i.e., 200ft) is Mach 1.15 (760kt), although a more economical speed, offering nearly the same degree of immunity from surface-to-air missile attack would be about Mach 0.9 to 0.95 (590kt to 650kt)... is thought that the operational ceiling would be about 65,000ft. Speed at altitude would be Mach 2.2 to 2.5, structural temperatures limiting this normally to the lower figure...

Weapon Load This would be slightly greater than TSR.2, and would be of the order of 20,000lb. In one configuration the aircraft could lift 14 1,000lb bombs.

Range The ferry range would be over 3,000 n.m., which is somewhat less than for the TSR.2, and substantially less than the 4,100 nm. quoted for the F-111. However, the tactical radius in the hi-lo profile is 30 per cent greater than for TSR.2. In the lo-lo case, the tactical radius is nearly the same.

Looks like a good plane, however...

Airfield Performance. This was admitted by Dassault and BAC to be inferior to that of the F-111. No figures were quoted...

...Dassault and BAC, however, made the point that the Government has cancelled two projects designed for short-field operation (P. 1154 and HS.681) and has replaced these With hard-runway aircraft, and it would thus appear that short-field performance, unaccompanied by a STOL transport, is now less emphasised.

For East of Suez, which was the mission intended for most of the F-111s, short- and rough-field performance was required.


That must have been a bloody good lunch in Bordeaux. Wish I'd been there. A bunch of Brits getting immersed in excellent wine, doubtless wonderful food and lots of Froggie propaganda.

And extremely upsetting to the bosses of BAC, particularly to see Flight (was it Mike Ramsden on that trip? Or Ken Owen?) take such a Francophile turn. A great example of Rolls-Royce's three-shaft product strategy* in action - it's interesting to wonder what turned the company around in the early 1960s, to the point where they clearly thought that the UK airframe/integration industry were a bunch of muppets? In 1963-64 they were already trying to sink the HS.1154 with the Spey-Crusader and Spey-Phantom and before that they had tried harder to get the Allison-built Medway on the 727 than they had worked on Trident; by 1967 they were betting everything on the TriStar and had sold the Spey for the A-7. And even in 1978 they were still pulling out all the stops to kill full UK participation in Airbus.

It would make great fantasy art, though - a stretched MIV with F-4K inlets. Not sure I believe 1970 IOC, but then M Dassault and the gang were pretty hot back in those days.

* Two in the engine and one up the British airframe industry
That must have been a bloody good lunch in Bordeaux. Wish I'd been there. A bunch of Brits getting immersed in excellent wine, doubtless wonderful food and lots of Froggie propaganda.

And extremely upsetting to the bosses of BAC, particularly to see Flight (was it Mike Ramsden on that trip? Or Ken Owen?) take such a Francophile turn.

I like the tone of this post ::)

On the non-nationalistic side of thing

As a delta wing machine its no suprise the Mirage had long take-off run and few rough field ability.
Sequence of Events:
1. 1960: UK PM Macmillan woos Big Charles to let us into EEC (applying, 9/8/61); HSAL schemes Blue Steel/Mirage IV. 29/11/62: Concord Agreement: a factor was infusion of UK structures know-how which Ministers intended to help Mirage IVA in supersonic cruise (I know! but it was so). 21/12/62 Nassau Polaris Agreement. 14/1/63: CDG EEC "Non!". 1963: NBMR.3 bid: BAC, Mirage IIIV; HSAL, P.1154 - wins. 1964: Warton design team into VG; BAC Board loses confidence in B.Wallis Swallows (personal - he was "difficult" - and to do with pivots, and adverse NASA appraisal). Gnat T.1/Hunter FGA.9 replacement schemes by BAC and HSAL, inc VG.P.1170B/71.

2. 16/10/64, Labour win Gen Election, pledging EEC entry, nuclear "review", purge of prestige "squander", Defence reduction for Education to take >% GNP (Your parents thought the other lot's time was up). Outgoing Chancellor tells incoming: "Sorry to leave such a mess, old c..k": UK broke again - Imperial overstretch, White Man's Burden.

3. PM meets Shastri, Indian PM, 3/12/64: Kashmir simmering (War, 5/8/65); China in Pakistan, messing on India/Tibet border; India talking of own Bomb. China A-Test had been 16/10/64; nutcase Sukarno rattled his "imminent" A-Bomb as he tried hard to kill Brits.

4. PM in US, 9/12/64: agrees credit Option equipment package, UK drawdown in NATO, increased UK presence in Indian Ocean.

5. 9/2/65: 118 F-4M, largely for RAFG, with US B-61. TSR.2/WE177B/Pandora ASM reduced to U/E 40 (buy, 50), for Gan/Tengah, to "provide some (nuclear) reassurance to (out-of-NATO-area) non-nuclear powers". Option for F-111K/B-61, interoperable with USAF F-111A/RAAF F-111C in ANZUS, Darwin/Butterworth/Okinawa. CDS Mountbatten sees Budget conflict with Buccaneer S.2/WE177(A)N/CVA.01 Queen Elizabeth (and CVA.02 Prince of Wales, -03-05).

6. G.R.Edwards declines a real risk-price for 50 TSR.2; 6/4/65 F-111K optioned. Meeting CDG, PM says: "We must set up UK/France co-operation": choppers, Blue Streak as Europa, Martel as ASM/ARM. BAC, with just the nibbles that on 21/12/65 become Magic Carpet, tried Spey/Mirage IVA+ex-TSR.2 avionics.

7. No Tender, not much paper, 17/5/65, Breguet's failed bid to G.91 becomes Jaguar, BAC wing and, on -S proper avionics;AFVG is funded, led by BAC, enraging M.Dassault.

8. 2/66, CDS Mountbatten having retired, CVA-01 cancelled, F-111K firmly ordered, an Air Group of F-4K/Buccaneer S.2(RN) only on Ark and Victorious (which spontaneously combusted 23/11/67) on NATO Flanks; Indian Ocean: Gan/Tengah, F-111K/Victor K.2.

9. 10/5/67: UK bids again for EEC; 29/6/67: M.Dassault gets AFVG dumped; Mirage G flies 18/10/67; UKVG is bluffed. 27/11/67: Non! On 16/1/68 skint UK dumps its Burden, cancels F-111K. FRG dumps V/STOL, flirts on NKF-75 with France, who flaunts Mirage G4 and gets dumped; UK invited; 17/7/68: 7 Air Arms agree 2 seats, =Tornado.

LO: RR: UK airframers as "a bunch of muppets". From 7/10/66 RR owned 20% of BAC, and then - 1/68 shared ownership of ex-BSEL with HSAL. They only peddled Medway to 727, Conway to DC-8/40, 707-400, Spey in F-8/F-4 to RN because BOAC/BEAC, or FAA wanted nothing made-in-Britain. After Attacker, Firebrand, Wyvern...Ambassador, Brabazon I, Marathon, Tudor...did they have a point? Until RB211/22 for L1011 became all-consuming, 1970, they were a bicycle, winking at any funded bed.
Interested in your comment about GRE declining a fixed price for the TSR.2 - does that indicate that the program would have been saved if he had done so?
Yes. Or funded on until technical/cost/time issues brought BAC close to bankruptcy, about 1967.
pr: Jaguar and AFVG: Pres. Sarkozy, on his recent London State Visit, ate in a Hall decorated with Waterloo and Trafalgar images, and commented - with aplomb - on our distinct perspectives on history!

UK/France had explored a common strike/trainer since early-64, BAC scheming VG P.45, HSAL/Hamble VG HS.1171,/Kingston vectored thrust HS.1173. France had Avion d’Étude et Combat: joining that, with RR senior to TM on RB172-T260, BAC junior on airframe (handling wing redesign/build, aft/tail build), became UK's entry price for airframe lead on AFVG (SNECMA lead on M45G). Both agreed by UK/France MoU 17/5/65. ÉCAT was presented in UK as being low-risk derived from ’54 NBMR.1: Breguet had no track record in UK on combat strike design, and SecDef Healey needed to assuage HSAL's incredulity (they had lost HS681/P.1154; to be Jaguar was selected without a formal tender process). 1965’s RAF Reqt. was 150 trainers: by the time of the Production MoU, 16/1/67 UK had changed to 35(to be 38) -B(i-seat trainer), and 165 -S, with Elliott nav/WASS and Ferranti LRMTR to deliver WE177A in RAFG, releasing F-4M to replace Lightning. FAF chose É(cole,40), -M(arine,40, to be 0, AMD placing Super Étendard), -A(ppui/Attack, 120, to be 160).

In my opinion RN AFVG was of junior priority on 17/5/65, deleted, with CVA-01 in February,1966; the RAF version was very wanted - I know nothing of UK Cabinet second thoughts on 7/12/66, and it was funded intensely until the moment of M.Dassault's coup. Noise by RR to try to spoil M45G (until 7/10/66, when RR bought BSEL) was given no attention - they were overloaded trying to build Spey to F-4 production volume. UK scurried with AFVG from 29/6/67 -perfidy, but had no desire to entrust the central combat type to BAC-solo. A European solution was wanted, but W.Germany was supersonic-V/STOL fixated (EWR-Sud/F-H.Republic AVS) until early-68. As soon as single-seat VG NKF-75 became preferred, France was there with Mirage-G notions. The Dassault Passion website has this:
"Economic difficulties following on the social turmoil of May 1968, added to uncertainty over the order for production-standard G 4s, obliged the director of the Service Technique de l’Aéronautique - after consulting with the Air Force general staff - to put the project on hold. It had been discovered that the cost of the program (an order for 60 aircraft had been envisaged) was beyond the means of the Air Force, which had, moreover, changed the mission priority in favor of an interceptor version". To which I now add: and FRG plus the other F-104G Users in NKF-75 Study Group were annoyed at the re-run of NBMR.3 - any choice you like so long as it's a Mirage. So: 17/7/68 - MRCA Feasibility MoU.
RAGEL sounds most interesting... Particularly since the SA-5 was a main target set for another attack aircraft project, initiated a few years later, to wit the F-117.

In english = Recon, Attack, long range SEAD
Nope, my own mistake.
Not easy to translate that in english. Guerre electronique = electronic warfare (not SEAD, sorry)
It was to be a multirole machine, as the Mirage III/ Mirage F1 / Jaguar were.
Re: The Spey Mirage project......

Dear Boys and Girls, here is an article in French about the Spey Mirage IV "project"; it gives a French perspective of the competition between the Spey Mirage IV and the GD F-111 to secure an order from the Royal Air Force......

The article comes from the 15th February 1966 issue of Aviation Magazine International......

Terry (Caravellarella)


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Here's an long article, with some fascinating insights about the Spey-Mirage IV, by BAC's Charle Gardner:
Interesting, it would be nice to know if it part of the same political effort that lead to the SEPECT Jaguar....
Dassault, who would have done very well out the deal, were understandably angry

Very interesting, thank you for sharing. Dassault was always reluctant to international cooperation, but for once they were interested. could have changed the Typhoon / Rafale story two decades later.
An article about the Spey Mirage IV "project" is featured in the latest issue No 33 of the magazine "The Aviation Historian".
A Grand Illusion?
When the BAC TSR.2 was cancelled in 1965, the RAF still needed a Canberra replacement; might France’s Dassault Mirage IV nuclear bomber suit? Using contemporary official sources, Thomas Withington finds out why it didn’t
That very moment in history when Mirage IV and TSR-2 crossed paths...

I'm really not surprised at all that the standard Mirage IVA absolutely did not fit the TSR-2 requirement bill.

you know what ? Well, sure, compared to the mighty Olympus and that extremely advanced piece of Ferranti avionics - the Mirage good old Atar 9K and Thomson CSF primitive avionics, stood zero chances unless hell froze over. Range and avionics wise, the Mirage IVA, compared to what the TSR-2 would have been, looked backward.

The only advantage of being that backward ? Realism and lower cost, maybe ? resulting in 62 Mirage build, enough for 9 squadrons, lasting from 1964 to 1996 or even 2005 in the reconnaissance variant.

The TSR-2 was formidable, but went nowhere.

Incidentally, after the 1956 Suez crisis, the ascendant French economy crossed with the descending to hell British economy - but it did not made a big difference, because the two countries were nothing compared to the twin Cold War Super powers.

Facing the same economics and 2nd power status level, by 1958 France and GB faced the same issue: how to create a supersonic nuclear bomber without bankrupting the country.

Make no mistake: France very nearly went full TSR-2 mode with the Mirage IV-B monster of aircraft. Would have been a B-58, no less.
And then it was screwed in favor of the far more modest IV-A, with the Atar, small range, basic avionics, and C-135FRs to bridge the gap (and mask the misery !).
Flight, 12 Feb 1966:

"Estimated unit cost of the Spey Mirage is £2,321,000 for 50 aircraft, including research and development write-off and contractors' profit of ten per cent. Unit cost for a run of 110 aircraft would drop to £2,067,000."
MoA Mulley told HoC 10/3/66: at canx. MoA assumed >£475Mn .R&D+50 TSR.2, cf. £125Mn. {+£25Mn.interest}: 50xF-111K; 10 yrs. TSR.2 operation as >£300Mn. >F-111K (This "ownership" number would not have weighed decisively: not for long decades did UK know how to guess "Sustainment" maybe still does not. Numbers stated at contract award are just that, guesses and appeal only to City Analysts trying to measure future profit. One lost argument for liability for an unscheduled engine Shop Visit screws any number).
Ozzies here will tell us that F-111C outturn differed somewhat from any of these numbers.

In 1963: Oz had chosen F-111C; USAF/PacAF planned to base F-111A in theatre, USN to cruise F-111B in theatre. McNamara talked of >3,000 F-111 family. No brainer for UK 4/65 to join that Sustainment Club for FEAF a/c: kited Unit price guesses were unenforceable.

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