The Mirage F1 emerged from a series of design studies performed by French aircraft manufacturer Dassault Aviation. Having originally sought to develop a larger swept wing derivative of the Mirage III, which became the Mirage F2, to serve as a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) propulsion testbed akin to the Dassault Mirage IIIV, however, it was soon recognised that the emerging design could function as the basis for a competent fighter as well. Both the Mirage F2 and a smaller derivative, referred to the Mirage F3, received substantial attention from both Dassault and the French Air Force, the latter being interested in its adoption as a long-range fighter bomber as a stopgap measure prior to the adoption of the envisioned Anglo-French Variable Geometry (AFVG) strike aircraft.
Parallel with the Mirage F3 study, which was intended to serve as an interceptor aircraft, Dassault decided to study a single-seat derivative which featured the all-French SNECMA Atar 9K-50 turbojet engine. The Spanish Air Force was the second Mirage F1 customer, and purchased a total of 91 machines of different variants from 1975, equipping a total of four squadrons, during the period 1998-2000, the survivors were upgraded to Mirage F1M standards, and were phased out of service in June 2013, but about 22 of them were given a new lease of life after beinjg acquired by Draken International to be used as aggressors in the US.