In 1916, the Aéronautique Militaire called for a new two-seater reconnaissance plane to replace its aging fleet of Farman F.40 pushers. Colonel Dorand responded with the Avion de Reconnaissance 1, an updated version of the Dorand DO.1 he developed in 1914. Like the DO.1, the Dorand AR.1 had back-staggered wings but was equipped with a more powerful engine. The AR.1 completed air trials in September 1916 and French observation squadrons began receiving the new biplane in April 1917. It was soon followed by an improved version, the Dorand AR.2. By the end of World War I, as many as 18 French observation squadrons on the Western and Italian fronts were equipped with ARs.
The United States's urgent need for aircraft in 1918 led to the purchase of more than a hundred Dorands. Mainly used for training, the Dorand ARs were disliked by American pilots who referred to them as "Antique Rattletraps."