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What if, the Mirage-4000 was produced?

helmutkohl

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So the saying goes, the M4K was built for the middle-eastern market (likely Saudi Arabia), but that never ended up materializing
project gets cancelled, and then the Rafale was born out of its ashes.

Lets say in this alternative history, some one did buy the Mirage 4000, the Saudis, the UAEs (maybe more likely?), etc.

How would this affect the entire future of Dassault, French military, and other related global acquisitions and power projection?

would France themselves, after seeing it being exported, buy it themselves?
would it mean no Rafales built, and instead, a replacement for the M2K and M4K occurring a decade or two later perhaps in the 90s or 2000s?
would it also mean no Mirage 2000Ns? (instead the role going to the M4K)?
who else would have bought it since another country took the first plunge? perhaps Taiwan?
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Archibald

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(better not to to start @Archibald over this one. Ooops, too late !)

It was unaffordable to France alone, unfortunately. An interesting POD might be, circa 1973 the Deal of the Century fractures before it starts: Belgium agree to buy Mirage F1-M53. Dassault did their best, but revelations about Mirage V corrupt bargains rightly infuriated Belgians and then Netherlands stepped in and the rest, as they say, is history).
Whatever, the Mirage F1-M53 moves forward but ACF is still canned as unaffordable.
The Mirage F1-M53 then pulls a Rafale two decades before and starts replacing the bulk of Armée de l'Air and French Navy fast jet fleet, a production run of 600 airframes.

With the F1-M53 well on track however on December 18, 1975 at the Elysée palace Marcel Dassault manage to corner Président VGE into buying a handful of his new Mirage 4000 as a replacement for the Mirage IVA in the 80's, with the ASMP ramjet missile. Dassault ensure Giscard Iraq and Saudi Arabia are very interested; their exports orders will help paying the bill. Dassault decisive argument however is that European countries are looking for a whole new venture beyond the Tornado, for air defence rather (hint: yes, Rafale & Typhoon have roots as early as 1976-77 !)
This picks Giscard curiosity and interest and he agress for a limited production run of two-seats Mirage 4000. The counterpart is that Dassault is forced to drop the Mirage 2000 since it would duplicate the F1-M53; the F1 massive economies of scale from a huge order will help funding the 4000 squadrons.
 

Archibald

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So what saves the 4000 ITTL is
- F1-M53 is luckier and gets a massive order
- Saudi Arabia and Iraq
- Early Typhoon / Rafale studies

Later a compromise is found related to put EJ200s into the 4000 airframe and the result is a 4000-Typhoon hybrid (Typhage ? Miroon ? Tyrage ?) - one hell of a terrific multirole combat aircraft.
 

helmutkohl

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(better not to to start @Archibald over this one. Ooops, too late !)

It was unaffordable to France alone, unfortunately. An interesting POD might be, circa 1973 the Deal of the Century fractures before it starts: Belgium agree to buy Mirage F1-M53. Dassault did their best, but revelations about Mirage V corrupt bargains rightly infuriated Belgians and then Netherlands stepped in and the rest, as they say, is history).
Whatever, the Mirage F1-M53 moves forward but ACF is still canned as unaffordable.
The Mirage F1-M53 then pulls a Rafale two decades before and starts replacing the bulk of Armée de l'Air and French Navy fast jet fleet, a production run of 600 airframes.

With the F1-M53 well on track however on December 18, 1975 at the Elysée palace Marcel Dassault manage to corner Président VGE into buying a handful of his new Mirage 4000 as a replacement for the Mirage IVA in the 80's, with the ASMP ramjet missile. Dassault ensure Giscard Iraq and Saudi Arabia are very interested; their exports orders will help paying the bill. Dassault decisive argument however is that European countries are looking for a whole new venture beyond the Tornado, for air defence rather (hint: yes, Rafale & Typhoon have roots as early as 1976-77 !)
This picks Giscard curiosity and interest and he agress for a limited production run of two-seats Mirage 4000. The counterpart is that Dassault is forced to drop the Mirage 2000 since it would duplicate the F1-M53; the F1 massive economies of scale from a huge order will help funding the 4000 squadrons.
thats interesting so you think it would end up being some kind of F-1 and M4k hi-lo mix?
 

Archibald

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Very much yes. The F1-M53 is inferior to the 2000 although not by much. Super 530, RDM RDI should fit. Plus a load of A2G ordinance minus the ASMP.
Case in point: OTL 1985 Saddam's Mirage F1EQ were better equiped than French 2000 RDM ! Also Morocco modernized F1s with Rafale generation avionics.
So no re-inventing of the wheel as per OTL. And it is better on carriers. Plus a big order to drop its cost.
Freeing some money for a handful of 4000s to replace the Mirage IV A - no IV P nor Mirage 2000N. Next step is Middleast or Europe pre-Typhoon and no Rafale.
 

overscan (PaulMM)

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Mirage F1-M53 lacked a decent radar option. RDM is the right answer but developed too late - it was based on Cyrano IV as a quick solution ahead of the definitive RDI. If RDM could be started in 1974/1975 instead of 1980, then the Mirage F1-M53 becomes a much more capable design. Add in some LERX to the F1 wing.... and you have most of a Mirage 2000 a few years old.
 

kaiserd

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So no Mirage 2000, but there is Mirage 4000 despite the later being based on (and dependent on the technology and systems of and developed for) the former?
And why would those countries that decided not to buy the Mirage 4000 now go for the Mirage 4000 in this scenario? (the Saudi’s always wanted F-15s and got them, etc.)
Likely a Mirage F-1M and Mirage 4000 combo markedly less successful in export market than the Mirage 2000 actually was; how would that be a “win”?
And why would having a markedly inferior (and less attractive for export customers) Rafale-equivalent be a good thing?
 

Archibald

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Never quite understood the difference between Super 530F and Super 530D, but Mirage F1 had the former with Cyrano IV right from 1980. Mirage 2000 RDM-530D indeed was a derivative...
 

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However the 530D has a lengthened stainless steel body. This allows it to accommodate a more powerful dual-thrust solid propellant motor and a new seeker assembly. The new seeker includes doppler filtering for improved low altitude performance and digital micro-processing to enable the seeker to be reprogrammed against new threats.
 

helmutkohl

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Wiki and others:
However the 530D has a lengthened stainless steel body. This allows it to accommodate a more powerful dual-thrust solid propellant motor and a new seeker assembly. The new seeker includes doppler filtering for improved low altitude performance and digital micro-processing to enable the seeker to be reprogrammed against new threats.
interesting, there's only been one confirmed kill with that missile
and it was an Iraqi F1 shooting down a Turkish F-100

i thought there would be more from the Iran-Iraq war
 

Mirage4000

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So the saying goes, the M4K was built for the middle-eastern market (likely Saudi Arabia), but that never ended up materializing
project gets cancelled, and then the Rafale was born out of its ashes.

Lets say in this alternative history, some one did buy the Mirage 4000, the Saudis, the UAEs (maybe more likely?), etc.

How would this affect the entire future of Dassault, French military, and other related global acquisitions and power projection?

would France themselves, after seeing it being exported, buy it themselves?
would it mean no Rafales built, and instead, a replacement for the M2K and M4K occurring a decade or two later perhaps in the 90s or 2000s?
would it also mean no Mirage 2000Ns? (instead the role going to the M4K)?
who else would have bought it since another country took the first plunge? perhaps Taiwan?
IMG_1721-2.jpg


_mg_0010.jpg
1619090997877.png

If the Mirage 4000 would had been built in my opinion France would had gotten a few, 80-100 units and later build Rafale, Rafale is a better aircraft, basically an improved smaller Mirage 4000, so it happened what it needed to happen, Mirage 4000 was just cancelled in name, Rafale while a new aircraft is an evolution and improved version of Mirage 4000 in a smaller format

1619091387697.png


both are pretty beautiful aircraft
 

Archibald

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Size and engine wise (although a generation ahead, make no mistake), the Rafale is a Hornet while the 4000 is closer from a F-15. Just like Canada and Australia, France found the Hornet size option to be far more affordable if a twin-jet aircraft was wanted.
 

Archibald

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The reason why I picked the F1-M53 as the 4000 enabler are 100% realpolitik and less technical. Those things happen.
a) the 2000 duplicated it as interceptor
b) to prevent Giscard from ordering the 2000 in place of the 4000 as happened OTL
c) since the F1 was already in mass production since 1973
d) in turn the F1 pulling a Rafale earlier free some funding for the 4000 to sneak in as a Mirage IVA replacement.
e) most of the 2000 variants - RDM RDI and even -5 - can be assumed by a F1 / 4000 high-low mix
 

overscan (PaulMM)

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With a bit more development effort and more competitive pricing, Belgium could have been the launch customer for F1-M53.
 

Archibald

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Note that in this peculiar case the radar issue is 100% independant of the airframe.
France needed the RDI in 1974 and it was 12 years late... F1 or 2000 or ACF or 4000: same problem.
 

Archibald

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With a bit more development effort and more competitive pricing, Belgium could have been the launch customer for F1-M53.

I found tantalizing bits of how close it came, with Leo Tindemmans governement in the year 1973. Back then The Netherlands was nowhere to be seen, they started arm-twisting Belgium in the spring of 1974.
 

overscan (PaulMM)

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RDM took only 2 years to develop and was mostly Cyrano IV parts, so could have been proposed for F1-M53 in 1975 (just need a TWT which could be imported if needed).
 

overscan (PaulMM)

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With a bit more development effort and more competitive pricing, Belgium could have been the launch customer for F1-M53.

I found tantalizing bits of how close it came, with Leo Tindemmans governement in the year 1973. Back then The Netherlands was nowhere to be seen, they started arm-twisting Belgium in the spring of 1974.
If you don't have it, you need Arms Deal - The Selling of the F-16 by Ingmar Dorfer. Very very comprehensive.
 

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Size and engine wise (although a generation ahead, make no mistake), the Rafale is a Hornet while the 4000 is closer from a F-15. Just like Canada and Australia, France found the Hornet size option to be far more affordable if a twin-jet aircraft was wanted.
The Mirage 4000 was to have commonality with Mirage 2000, Rafale was to improve the Mirage 4000 basic concept with better intake design, simplier, lighter smaller, meaning cheaper in some degree however as time passed it became expensive.
1619094074944.png
I mean the Mirage 4000 started as a big Mirage 2000, a twin engined Mirage 2000, but the simplier intake reduced speed but improved the AoA handling of the Mirage 4000 concept, the evolution is not direct, but definitively it is an evolution of Mirage 4000 configuration, Rafale is a new aircraft, because technology improves so the Mirage 2000 technology needed to be replaced, so Rafale is not directly a Mirage 4000 evolution but basicaly Mirage 4000 is the base that was improved it is similar to YF-17 is related to F-18E

1619094241458.png
 
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TomcatViP

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Notice that Marcel Dassault (the founder of the company, alive at that time and actively heading the strategy) was more in favor of the M2000. It's mainly the AdlA that wanted something as big as the 4000.
Marcel Dassault lobbied the governement (Vge) analysing that the multi-role 4000 would be too costly for the AdlA and less competitive on the market against the heavy fighters from the US (lower performances on engines and systems). Instead, AMDBA came around the dual M2000 proposal (one for A2A and one for A2G) that was central to the M2K success against "heavier" design like the F-16 or F-18 (a lighter airframe single role compensate the lack of engine power, the lack of resources in manufacturing and minimize the gap in performances of related systems).

Until the M2k-MKI and M2K-9 came to life.

If Snecma would have been able to offer an engine with F-100 like capabilities or Dassault allowed to buy foreign engines, the probabilities for the 4000 could have been far higher.

(probably that this should be a lesson for FCAS)
 
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Deltafan

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Size and engine wise (although a generation ahead, make no mistake), the Rafale is a Hornet while the 4000 is closer from a F-15. Just like Canada and Australia, France found the Hornet size option to be far more affordable if a twin-jet aircraft was wanted.
The Mirage 4000 was to have commonality with Mirage 2000, Rafale was to improve the Mirage 4000 basic concept with better intake design, simplier, lighter smaller, meaning cheaper in some degree however as time passed it became expensive.
n the Mirage 4000 started as a big Mirage 2000, a twin engined Mirage 2000, but the simplier intake reduced speed but improved the AoA handling of the Mirage 4000, the evolution is not direct, but definitively it is an evolution of Mirage 4000, Rafale is a new aircraft, because technology improves so the Mirage 2000 technology needed to be replaced, so Rafale is not directly a Mirage 4000 evolution but basicaly is the base that was improved it is similar to YF-17 is related to F-18E
In my dreams (and when we see the F-15's career since 1972, in particular with the today's F-15 EX), the 4000 would have been improved and, with the time, and a derivative of the DEXTRE project for the new engine (M-53's size) its costs would have decreased (not for engine, electronics and weaponry, but for the frame).
The problem would have been the French Navy. Maybe a one-engined Rafale (Novi Avion like, but bigger) could have been the solution.

 

Archibald

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The 2000 is often cited as impossible to navalize, yet
- the Skyray did it
- the Skylancer was even closer from a naval 2000
- they didn't have analog FBW and were contemporary of the Mirage III

This also applies to the Mirage III, incidentally. If a Skylancer could make it (land a mach 2 delta on a carrier !) then why not a Mirage III-M ?
 

Mirage4000

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Notice that Marcel Dassault (the founder of the company, alive at that time and actively heading the strategy) was more in favor of the M2000. It's mainly the AdlA that wanted something as big as the 4000.
Marcel Dassault lobbied the governement (Vge) analysing that the multi-role 4000 would be too costly for the AdlA and less competitive on the market against the heavy fighters from the US (lower performances on engines and systems). Instead, AMDBA came around the dual M2000 proposal (one for A2A and one for A2G) that was central to the M2K success against "heavier" design like the F-16 or F-18 (a lighter airframe single role compensate the lack of engine power, the lack of resources in manufacturing and minimize the gap in performances of related systems).

Until the M2k-MKI and M2K-9 came to life.

If Snecma would have been able to offer an engine with F-100 like capabilities or Dassault allowed to buy foreign engines, the probabilities for the 4000 could have been far higher.

(probably that this should be a lesson for FCAS)
the Mirage had a huge wing meaning the thrust required would had been a bit less needed, thrust is needed in a turn to replace lost lift, the engines it had were less powerful but with a huge wing and canards it still was a pretty agile aircraft. on Rafale the wing was less swept and much smaller and farther forward
1619100282828.png

1619100261869.png
 
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Deltafan

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The 2000 is often cited as impossible to navalize, yet
- the Skyray did it
- the Skylancer was even closer from a naval 2000
- they didn't have analog FBW and were contemporary of the Mirage III

This also applies to the Mirage III, incidentally. If a Skylancer could make it (land a mach 2 delta on a carrier !) then why not a Mirage III-M ?

The wings of the two Douglas are deltas, too, but not exactly the same as the two Dassault. Maybe the differences in wing characteristics explain these differences to be able to land on an aircraft carrier ? Moreover, when it is not initially foreseen, the navalization of a "land" aircraft leads to overweight and resistance constraints which may prohibit its use on aircraft carriers (like the cracks that appeared on the Jaguar M test bed).

Oherwise, it would be interesting too to know :

-the respective landing speeds of each of the 4 planes

-the degree of incidence of the 4 planes on landing


As far as I remember, there was no Mirage 2000 foreseen for aircraft-carrier, but there was a project of a modified Mirage III to land on aircraft carriers, the Mirage V (with "V" as Roman "5"). The cockpit is higher for visibility on landing and a horizontal stabilizer is perhaps intended to reduce the incidence on landing (and also the speed?). The wings are modified too with movable leading edges.
 

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BLACK_MAMBA

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Would have loved to see the 4000 produced, but it would take at least two things to happen differently...

1. The French should want it for their air force (less risk and less development cost).
2. The Saudi's must be blocked from buying the F-15. If they buy it then that could convince others to follow...

I can't forsee a future customer taking on M4000 without French AF investment however - and the FAF really wanted something closer to the Hornet than the F-15 and hence Rafale.

The F1-M53 options seem interesting, but considering all the European nations who bought F-16 I can't see a scenario where it is sold in large numbers. As other point out, with no M2000 base it really means M4000 is sort of a dead duck too as it relied heavily on the M2000 foundations.
 

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Would have loved to see the 4000 produced, but it would take at least two things to happen differently...

1. The French should want it for their air force (less risk and less development cost).
2. The Saudi's must be blocked from buying the F-15. If they buy it then that could convince others to follow...

I can't forsee a future customer taking on M4000 without French AF investment however - and the FAF really wanted something closer to the Hornet than the F-15 and hence Rafale.

French magazine Fana de l'aviation, March 2019 :

 

Deltafan

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was the mirage F.1 capable of carrier landings?

At the end of the 1960s, the French Navy considered replacing the Etendard IVM. The purchase of 100 devices is being considered. The Jaguar M one time considered and tested proves, among other things, to be underpowered. A national solution being preferred, the A-4M Skyhawk and the A-7E Corsair II are rejected.

In September 1971, Dassault offered a navalized version of the Mirage F1, the Mirage F1 Marine (we also find the names Mirage F1M or F1N). This is based on the Mirage F1E, the version with an M53 engine (but without post-combustion in order to reduce the approach speed) which will fly at the end of 1974. Indeed, the naval aircraft will weigh 400 or 1000 kg of more than the terrestrial version, which requires additional power. A new wing is also being considered.

In addition, the Mirage F1M could also replace the F-8E Crusaders. The first deliveries could be made in 1976. A Mirage F1 also performs landing simulations on the track, and the pilot, who has also tested the Jaguar M, has the impression that it will be easier to land. than its competitors.

But in 1973, the Navy finally preferred a modernized version of the Étendard, the Super-Étendard, which had the advantage of being within its means. Indeed, the Mirage F1 Marine is too expensive, and moreover it would take a reactor of 10 tons of thrust. However, the fuselage of the Mirage F1 is too fragile to withstand more than 9 tons of thrust. Because of this, it is not possible to reduce the approach speed to 125 knots. Finally, the calculated performances are lower than the requirements (interception at Mach 2 at 50,000 feet altitude in 9 minutes instead of 7, autonomy of 45 minutes instead of 1 hour 40 minutes). These requirements are unreasonable, but the project is then abandoned without any prototype being built. In addition, Sanguinetti, Major General of the Navy in 1972 and Vice-Admiral in 1974, was opposed to the Mirage F1 because of its too high approach speed and… poor ground attack capabilities.

The project was relaunched at the end of the Vietnam War, in 1976, when it came to replacing the Crusaders. Once again, the French Navy could eventually have a unique aircraft, the Mirage F1M could also replace the Super-Étendard at the end of its career. But once again, economic considerations prevail and the Crusader was not replaced but modernized.
 

Archibald

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was the mirage F.1 capable of carrier landings?

It nearly happened in 1971. The french navy wanted it and the M53 come right there. But it would also need a larger wing just like the Jag M.
And just like the Rafale A demonstrator in the late 80's, they made approaches on a Clemenceau carrier (with a F1 Atar prototype). No landing of course, not even touch-and-go; just simulated approaches.

As for Belgium only them would buy the F1-M53 but that would be enough to turn the Armee de l'air away from the Atar.
 

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I guess it would have meant that the Saudis wouldn't have purchased the Tornado ADV or as many (or if any) F-15s.
 

Archibald

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Well as bizarre as it seems, Saudia Arabia seemingly wanted all three by 1987.
Number of F-15s in Peace Sun was limited to 60 by Israel pressure (F-15s to Arabs, are you freakkin' kidding me ??!!!)
Tornado ADV was to be a palliative (Al Yamamah mega contract 1985) but... it was the Tornado ADV. Good for patrolling the GIUK gap, but as substitute to F-15s ? ugh...
That left the 4000 and Dassault tried as hard they could. Guess why late photos of the 4000 (1986-1988, including the flights with Rafale A) show a desert camo ? instead of the earlier tricolour livery ? It come relatively close, mid-1988, but MOAR F-15s ruined the party.
 

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Well as bizarre as it seems, Saudia Arabia seemingly wanted all three by 1987.
Goodness, this is beginning to sound like the Shah's shopping spree of the Seventies! That would have definitely led to some problems with spares and logistics. I wonder how they would have used the Mirage 4000? To be quite honest, I'm still not sure as to why or how they operate the Tornado ADV, it seems a little big.

Tornado ADV was to be a palliative (Al Yamamah mega contract 1985) but... it was the Tornado ADV. Good for patrolling the GIUK gap, but as substitute to F-15s ? ugh...
The Mirage 4000 and F-15 order makes sense when put into context the. But that does beg the question, why was the Tornado purchased in the first place?

That left the 4000 and Dassault tried as hard they could. Guess why late photos of the 4000 (1986-1988, including the flights with Rafale A) show a desert camo ?
At that point, I guess Dassault was trying to get an order for it. Basically a case of " a drowning man will grab onto even the smallest straw" (I do apologise if this isn't the exact expression in English, I translated this directly from Maltese).
 

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As I thought, the ADV was definitely not suited for their operating environment. Their "operating space", if I may call it that, is rather small, especially for such a large, dedicated platform like the ADV. This is where the F-15s and Mirage 4000s would come into the picture. I still can't grasp as to why they even bothered ordering the ADV in the first place.
 

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Have you ever seen a Tornado in the flesh? It's much smaller than an F-15.
I think most people here a confusing turn circle size with physical airframe size...

The F3 is quite a bit smaller than the F15 and its only real problem was... Well... It wasn't an F15!
 

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As I thought, the ADV was definitely not suited for their operating environment. Their "operating space", if I may call it that, is rather small, especially for such a large, dedicated platform like the ADV.


Consult a map!

Saudi Arabia itself is over 800,000 sq miles... Which ignores the areas of the Gulf and Red Sea (and any foreign airspace one might wish to patrol in the event of hostilities).

Italy and UK are right about an eighth of that. If you include the GIUK (say, 1600 mi long x 500 mi wide) with the UK itself, it's still less area than just Saudi Arabian land area. About 100,000 sq mi less!
 
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Mirage4000

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Would have loved to see the 4000 produced, but it would take at least two things to happen differently...

1. The French should want it for their air force (less risk and less development cost).
2. The Saudi's must be blocked from buying the F-15. If they buy it then that could convince others to follow...

I can't forsee a future customer taking on M4000 without French AF investment however - and the FAF really wanted something closer to the Hornet than the F-15 and hence Rafale.

The F1-M53 options seem interesting, but considering all the European nations who bought F-16 I can't see a scenario where it is sold in large numbers. As other point out, with no M2000 base it really means M4000 is sort of a dead duck too as it relied heavily on the M2000 foundations.
for me the Mirage 4000, Su-33KUB, IAI Lavi and F-16XL are my favorite jets that were never built, and I am pretty sad F-14 was never built like the other teen fighters.
 
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