The curious circle of the Dassault Mirage delta family
First, the French machines:
On top we have the original Mirage III, one hell of an interceptor and fighter, the living proof that a delta wing was the perfect solution for supersonic flight (instead of that god-awful wing used by the F-104), an overall and outstanding export success, effectively the west’s MiG-21, only superior.
Then came her first major upgrade, the Mirage V, a version almost tailor-made for Israel (but more of that in a sec), that sacrificed all-weather interception capacity for better ground-attack capabilities, with an stretched fuselaje, better payload, better range, more hard-points, and a nose cone designed to improve ground view. Another export success.
And finally, the ultimate version, the Mirage 50, a throwback to the original all-weather interception capabilities, with a set of fixed canards to improve flying characteristics, a new radar and engine, not as successful as her predecessors, but still an aircraft to behold.
Now we get to the international copies and variants:
This is effectively an unlicensed Israeli version of the Mirage V, the IAI Nesher (Vulture). Build after France denied delivery of the V’s the Israelis both helped to make and payed in full, where, Israel being Israel, decided that fuck the french, they were getting their Mirages, so what they did was STEAL her blueprints using the Mossad, and basically built the aircraft themselves, the only differences being the american ejection seats and some Israeli-made avionics, quickly passed out and sold to Argentina, getting renamed Dagger, and following a small upgrade, Finger.
Now came a true Israeli modification, a big improvement over the Nesher, which replaced the french-made engine with an american-made one, the same that powered the F-4 already in service with the IAF, the General Electric J79, giving birth to the IAI Kfir (Lion’s cub, a colombian C10 version is pictured), a superior variant with better avionics, higher payload and all-around performance, although with a reduced range.
And the final variant, the South African Atlas Cheetah, which is essentially a mix between a Kfir and a Mirage III, with a more powerful french-made engine (the same equipping the Mirage 50), much better avionics, improvements of dogfighting ability, and overall the ultimate version of the Mirage III, which in turn, curiously enough, would lead to the development of the upgraded Kfir C10 (seen on the Kfir pic), completing the circle.
With the Cheetah died the development of this remarkable aircraft, as the French moved on to the far superior but far less successful Mirage 2000
While the Israelis would try, and ultimately fail, to make their own fighter, based on the lessons from the Nesher and Kfir, culminating in the cancelled (thanks to america) IAI Lavi
Which, curiously enought, would help to give birth to the first fully indigenous chinese fighter jet, the Chengdu J-10
And finally, the South Africans just gave up on aircraft-making, after the end of Apartheid brought an end to their military complex, the most advanced in Africa.