The Mirage 4000 was noticeably larger and heavier than the single-engined Mirage 2000, the 4000 having two SNECMA M53-2turbofans. It also featured small canards above the engine air intakes and a true bubble canopy compared to the Mirage 2000 and previous Mirages. Despite the changes the two aircraft remained similar, sharing the delta wing design, semi-circular air intakes and general configuration.
The Mirage 4000 first flew on 9 March 1979. It was financed as a private venture by Dassault. The Mirage 4000 was comparable in size to the United States F-15 Eagle, and was designed to be both a long-range interceptor and a capable fighter-bomber.
In the early 1980s Dassault ended the program shortly after the Saudis chose the F-15 as their preferred aircraft. The French Air Force preferred to concentrate on the Mirage 2000, leaving Dassault with no customers. Some of the expertise thus gained would later influence the Dassault Rafale. The only prototype moved to its final residence at the Musée de l'Air et de l'Espace (Paris Air and Space Museum) in 1995.