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The Historical Escadrilles of EC 7; Saint-Dizier, June 18, 2000

La 7ème Escadron de Chasse, part 2; Text and Photograph's by Alex van Noye

Escadron de Chasse 7 is now the last operational unit in France which still operates with the SEPECAT Jaguar. EC 7 is composed of three Escadrons which are in their turn built up from a number of escadrilles. These escadrilles all carry the history and traditions of the French fighters from the period of the First World War.

The Escadron de Chasse 7 was founded in Dijon on October 1, 1932. At Nieuport Delage the unit consists of two fighter groups namely GC I/7 (SPA 15 and 77) and GC II/7 (SPA 73 and 78). In May 1939, GC III/7 (SPA 152 and "Tête de Furie") was added. In 1939, the three units which were linked together became independent of each other and GC 7 fell apart. The current EC 7 was founded on November 17, 1951, for the second time on Bizerte Sidi-Ahmed when EC 1/7 "Provence" (SPA 15 and 77) and EC 2/7 "Nice" (SPA 73 and 78) were equipped with Vampire Mk V. EC 2/7 was eventually integrated into EC 1/7 and the unit moved to Nancy in France. The unit under the name "Nice" was placed in March 1962 at EC 8 in Cazaux. Since the move to Base Arienne 113 Saint-Dizier and the transformation to the Jaguar in 1973, the EC 7 was reduced to its composition of three escadrons. Eventually a fourth escadron was added, because besides EC 1/7, EC 2/7 and EC 3/7, the EC 4/7 was also added to the unit. EC 4/7 "Limousin" moved to Istres in 1980. The unit would participate in the Tactical Air Force's pre-strategic mission as part of EC 4. With the restructuring measures of the plan "Armées 2000" and the regrouping of the controlled part of the nuclear forces under the FAS flag, the escadrons EC 1/7 "Provence" and EC 3/7 "Languedoc" lost their nuclear tasks at the beginning of the 1990s. The units would specialize further in the conventional attack.

The first unit within EC 7 is the Escadron de Chasse 1/7 "Provence", this unit was equipped with the Jaguar in 1973. The EC 1/7 "Provence" represents the traditions of the Eskadrilles SPA 15 and SPA 77. SPA 15 "Casque de Bayard" was founded in Reims on August 22, 1912, and is recognizable by the knight's helmet. The second unit SPA 77 "Croix de Jérusalem" was founded on September 19, 1916 in Lyon and can be recognized by the cross on the tail of the aircraft. The units were finally stationed at Strasbourg in 1920 after the First World War. GC II/3 was composed of

SPA 15 and 77 in Dijon in October 1932. It remained there until January 26, 1939, before the unit departs for Tunisia. During the Second World War, GC II/3 is often used during actions in Egypt and later also in Algeria. The name "Provence" is linked to the unit in May 1944, during the campaign of Corsica. In July 1947, the unit was numbered as GC I/1 "Provence" before the unit was definitively designated as the EC 1/7 "Provence" in November 1951. In April 1953, the squadron received its first Mistral aircraft and the unit participated in the patrol operations in Algeria between 1956 and 1961. In Dijon the unit is transferred to the Mystere IV. On December 1, 1961, the squadron moved to Nancy-Ochey where the unit would become part of EC 7. When the unit would convert to the Jaguar, EC 7 was moved to Saint-Dizier.

The second unit at Saint Dizier is the EC 2/7 "Argonne". This unit is the French OCU and flies with the Jaguar since October 1974. EC 2/7 "Argonne" carries the traditions of the Eskadrilles SPA 31 "Archer Romain" and SPA 48 "Tête de Coq". SPA 31 can be recognized by the Roman warrior with a bow in his hand. This unit was founded on September 24, 1914 in Dijon. SPA 48 can be recognized by the head of the cock and was established on March 19, 1915. On January 1, 1920, these two escadrons became the 4th and 5th squadron respectively in the 2nd fighter group. The units fought during the raid in North Africa in 1931. During the Second World War, the unit was deployed to a limited extent and flew with the Dewoitine 520. On February 1, 1953, the escadron was reborn under the name EC 3/1 "Argonne" . This new unit was established at Saint-Dizier and equipped with the Republic F-84G Thunderjet. The escadron took part in law enforcement in Algeria in February and March 1965. EC 3/1 was equipped with the F-84F Thunderstreak in May 1956. The escadron took part in the Suez Canal expedition in October and November 1956. On November 1, 1957, the escadron was dissolved due to personnel problems related to the participation of the Air Force in North African actions. From October 11, 1974, SPA 31 and SPA 48 officially formed EC 2/7 "Argonne" and this unit was equipped with the Jaguar at Saint-Dizier. On December 1, 1994, SPA 154 was also added to EC 2/7. This unit can be recognized by the crane bird in the crest. SPA 154 was founded on June 28, 1917.

EC 3/7 "Languedoc" is the third unit on Saint-Dizier. The unit bears the traditions of Escadrille 3C1 and SPA 38. Escadrille 3C1 was a former navy unit of the French Navy Aviation Service. The Jaguars of this unit can be recognized by the shark on the tail of the aircraft. 3C1 was founded on September 1, 1927 in Hyères. Escadrille 3C1 was transferred to the Air Force on January 1, 1936. The unit became the third squadron of GC 11/8 in Marseille Marignane. SPA 38 is already an old unit from the First World War period, because the unit was established on January 8, 1915. The unit has the name "The thistle of Lorraine" (Le Chardon de Lorraine) and has a green thistle in the emblem. SPA 38 was dissolved on August 10, 1919, and reappears on April 1, 1937 as the second escadron of GC 11/8. In August 1939, GC 11/8 carried out 631 coastal surveillance missions on the Mediterranean Sea at Potez and they were deployed in Dunkirk. The unit was disbanded in November 1942 with 15 air victories. After its re-establishment after the Second World War, the name "Languedoc" was first linked to GC 11/8 in 1951. The unit was deployed several times over the years in countries such as Indochina and Morocco. When the unit returned to France, the squadron was based on Nancy where it flew with the Mysteries IV. On December 1, 1961, the escadron was officially renamed EC 3/7 "Languedoc". After twelve years at Nancy-Ochey, EC 7 was moved to Saint-Dizier with its Mystere IV on May 17, 1973. The transformation to the Jaguar took place in Mont-de-Marsan from December 7, 1973 to March 1974. From this date until now it flies with the Jaguar.

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