3rd Generation Airframe
Previous sales campaigns clearly demonstrated that Dassault had designed an airframe that left little to be desired as regards reliability, strength and ease of maintenance when compared with the American fighters. Panels providing access to vital systems that required routine maintenance were ergonomically situated and access to the engine and gearbox was well thought out. The airframe as such, didn´t require any modification.
The SNECMA M53-P2, though not as powerful as it´s American counterparts was proving to be a reliable, trouble free, low maintenance, engine. The Pratt & Whitney engine, although offering 1000 hours "on wing", compared with 300/600 hours for the M53, required removal of the afterburner nozzle every 400 hours and the engine wasn´t proving entirely satisfactory in USAF service
The M53-P2, as envisaged for the Dash 5 doesn´t differ significantly from the -P2 powering the E and C versions. The added avionics require more electrical power and as a result the two 20 kVA generators have been replaced by two 25 kVA units. A further modification is related to the forward fuselage mounted MICA missile. When the pilot launches a missile, the engine momentarily throttles down to avoid ingesting smoke from the rocket motor of the missile. This is done automatically and pilots report that they notice nothing at all.
The airframe/engine combination was proving to be a good one and Dassault were thus able to concentrate on the integration of new cockpit displays and related systems.