Despite the F1 Dassault-Mirage's loss of the NATO "arms deal of the century" to the American YF-16, France's arms expecters are still confidently expecting a bumper export year.
MV PAN 550 Magic missile being wheeled across tarmac towards aircraft
GV & SCU Missile being fitted into position (2 shots)"
SV's Missile on wing (2 shots)
MV Pilot in cockpit, hatch being closed
MV PAN Aircraft taxiing
AIR-TO-AIR Mirage in flight
GV PANS Missiles being fired (3 shots)
GV & SV's Mirages in flight (3 shots)
CU Pilot operating controls and pressing firing button (3 shots)
AIR-TO-AIR & GV's Missile being launched & hits target (3 shots)
AIR TO AIR & GV Another missile launched and hits target ( 3 shots)
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Background: Despite the F1 Dassault-Mirage's loss of the NATO "arms deal of the century" to the American YF-16, France's arms expecters are still confidently expecting a bumper export year.
At the forefront of the French weapon industry's boom in 1975 is certain to be the Matra 550 Magic air-to-missile, unquestionably the best of its type in the world.
In the modern aerial dogfight, fought at speeds of March 2-plus, the range and accuracy drawbacks of traditional cannon and machine-gun weapons systems are magnified. The odds are against pinpointing a target and stabilising the sights long enough for kill.
Until now, air-to-air missiles could not find a prey capable of tight, high-speed t urns. Those like the U.S. Sidewinder were designed more than 15 years ago to attack targets not banking steeply.
To overcome this, Matra first developed the 530 missile for attack from any angle and snap-up firing. It proved a success and has since been deployed by the air forces of 12 countries. Now its successor, the 550 Magic, is to go into full production. It is superior to its predecessor in its capability to retrieve and correct large aiming errors and still score a direct hit. It has proved effective between ranges of 500 metres and 6 kilometres (3.7 miles).
A number of undisclosed advance orders for the 550 Magic have already been made by overseas buyers. Arms-buying visits to Paris earlier this year by Egypt's President Anwar Sadat, Kuwait's Sheikh Sabah and Greece's Prime Minster Constantine Karamanlis could include the new missile. Besides the F1 Mirage, the 550 Magic can be fitted to a variety of other aircraft, including the Mirage IIIE, British Jaguar, U.S.Crusader and Italian Macchi.
Despite set backs to primary weapons systems -- such as the F1 Mirage -- the French success with secondary and support systems are backed by statistics. French manufacturers have been reported in recent weeks to have arms deals in hand worth 30 billion Francs (3.1 billion sterling). An annual export industry growth rate of 13 per cent has now placed France ahead of Britain as the world's third largest arms supplier after the U.S. and the Soviet Union.