article - NBMR-3

NBMR-3 or NATO Basic Military Requirement 3 was a document produced by a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) committee in the early 1960s detailing the specification of future combat aircraft designs. The requirement was for aircraft in two performance groups, supersonicfighter aircraft (NBMR-3a) and subsonic fighter-bomber aircraft (NBMR-3b). Both requirements specifically stated the need for V/STOL performance as the contemporary fear was that airfields could be overrun or disabled through Eastern Bloc hostile actions and that dispersed operating bases would be needed. Germany was planning replacements for the Fiat G.91 and Lockheed F-104G Starfighter using the new aircraft types.

Conceptual model of the VFW VAK 191B V/STOL fighter-bomber aircraft
Project for Development of VTOL military aircraft
Issued by NATO
Date initiated 1961
Prototypes Dassault Mirage IIIV
EWR VJ 101
Date concluded 1967

Aircraft manufacturing companies of European countries were invited to submit designs, from a short-list of 10 supersonic fighter designs two were chosen as the joint winners, the Hawker Siddeley P.1154 and Dassault Mirage IIIV. Disagreement over the balance between best performance aircraft and one which would benefit the aircraft industry more meant that neither type entered service.

Subsonic fighter-bomber designs were also submitted to fulfil the second part of the requirement, of 11 designs four were short-listed with the VFW VAK 191B being declared the winner. This aircraft was built and flown but did not enter service.

A contemporary alternative to new aircraft type procurement was the novel idea of rocket launching existing fighter aircraft types from ramps and recovering the aircraft on short strips using arrestor gear. A related requirement, NBMR-4, detailed specifications for transport aircraft with similar performance to support the fighter and fighter-bomber aircraft at remote sites. The Fiat G.222 and Dornier Do 31 were the only designs to fly from a revised requirement (NBMR-22), the Dornier being used for test purposes only.

Engine development for new powerplants ran alongside the aircraft projects. The requirements were withdrawn in 1967, aircraft prototypes that had been built were used for experimental purposes until they were retired in the early 1970s. Examples of aircraft types involved in the programme have been preserved and are on display in aviation museums.

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NBMR-3a was the selection criteria for new supersonic V/STOL fighter aircraft designs. A NATO advisory committee met in July 1960 and subsequently published an outline document for the requirement, by July 1961 detailed aircraft specifications had been agreed and a letter was sent to 40 aircraft manufacturers. The selected aircraft types were intended to enter service between 1964 and 1967.[1]

  • Speed – Mach 2.
  • Takeoff and landing – V/STOL performance.
Dassault Mirage IIIV during flight testing
  • Fokker-Republic D.24 Alliance
United Kingdom

Of these aircraft types the majority remained paper projects, the Dassault Balzac V served as an engine and systems testbed for two Mirage IIIV prototypes that were built and test flown in 1965, one aircraft (the second one, named “V-02”) was lost in an accident (killing its pilot[2]), but the other (the “V-01”) is preserved and still on display at the Musée de l’air et de l’espace[3] (Air & Space Museum) near Paris.

The P.1154 had been judged to be technically superior, but the Mirage had greater potential for cooperative development and production being spread across the member nations. The French government withdrew over the selection of the P.1154 over the Dassault design.[4] In the UK the P.1154 had still found support for meeting the RAF needs and construction was under way on the prototype airframes when the newly elected government cancelled it in 1964 (along with other aircraft projects) on cost grounds.[5]

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