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Base Aérienne 116 Luxeuil-les-Bains; Luxeuil, July 1, 2001

Home of Escadron de Chasse 4; Text and Photograph's by Alex van Noye

The French airbase Luxeuil is now home to a part of Escadron Chasse 4. Two of the three squadrons are stationed at this airbase. The last unit of EC4 is stationed at Istres-Le-Tube. Besides EC4 is also the small test unit CITac339 stationed at the airbase. This unit is testing procedures and weapons for the French AdlA.

The French air base Luxeuil Saint-Sauveur is located in the east of France in the French region of Franche-Comte. The airbase is designated by the French Air Force as BA116. The airbase has two runways which are crossed and both have a length of over 2300 meters. Luxeuil was first opened during the First World War by the US Air Service of the United States Army in 1918. The airbase was after its foundation immediately a Main Operating Base of the French Air Force. Luxeuil was the headquarters of the V Corps Observation Group. This unit was deployed during the St Mihiel and the Meuse-Argonne offensives at the end of the First World War. Luxeuil was used at that time as a tactical observation airfield and there were three units stationed. The pilots flew over the battlefield for an observation run and reported the enemy movements by aerial photographs. There were also indications given to the artillery from the air. In the period from 1940 to 1944 Luxeuil would be in German hands. The German Luftwaffe used the airbase intensively. From September 1944, the French took over the airbase again and placed a P-47 Thunderbolt unit at this location. After the Second World War, several units were based at Luxeuil for a short period. Only since 1966, the Escadron de Bombardment 03.094 l'Arbois was stationed at the airbase. This unit was equipped with the Mirage IV. The unit stayed at Luxeuil until the end of 1983 when it was dissolved. In parallel was also EC00.004 stationed at this airbase, this unit is still based at Luxeuil nowadays.

Escadron de Chasse 01.004 is one of the two Mirage 2000N units which are based at Luxeuil Air Base. The unit is nicknamed Dauphine (Dolphin) and was established on July 1, 1947. The unit was one of many French units which were founded shortly after the Second World War. During the founding of the unit it was part of the Battle Group II/3 in Koblenz in Germany. The squadron was after its establishment equipped with the British Supermarine Spitfire. Soon the unit was sent to French Indochina, where

the unit started to fly the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt in 1949. The unit would be deployed in many battles and would return to France after 16 months of service. At the end of 1949 the squadron received the de Havilland Vampire. There would be flown with the aircraft until 1953. From 1949 until 1961, the unit would be based on the German airbase Bremgarten. EC01.004 would fly there with the Dassault Ouragan and the Republic F-84F Thunderstreak. The Thunderstreak remained in service at EC01.004 until 1967 when the aircraft was replaced by the Mirage IIIE. From the arrival of the Mirage IIIE the unit moved permanently to Luxeuil in France. The Mirage IIIE was replaced in 1988 by the Mirage 2000N. The unit received from 1991 the nuclear task when the unit became part of the French strategic air forces. EC01.004 is for the nuclear mission equipped with the ASMP missile which can be attached under the fuselage of the Mirage 2000N. EC01.004 consists of three Escadrilles, namely; SPA 37 "Charognard", SPA 81 "Lévrier" and SPA 92 "Lion de Belfort". The Mirages of the unit are identified by the code 4-Ax on the nose of the aircraft.

Escadron de Chasse 02.004 is a combat unit of the French Air Force and is stationed at Luxeuil. The nickname of this unit is La Fayette. The squadron was established on July 1, 1947. During the establishment of the unit it was designated as EC02.005. The unit was a sequel to one of the Escadrilles which was founded in 1916 by the American volunteers. The unit became then known as the Red Devils. One of the Escadrille emblems of EC02.004 is therefore also a red devil on a broomstick. The squadron took part in the Indochina War and the war in Algeria. The unit was based at the airbase BA116 Luxeuil-Saint-Sauveur in 1961. Like EC01.004, this unit would be equipped with the Republic F-84F Thunderstreak. The unit would fly with the streak in the period from 1957 to 1966. From this moment EC02.004 switched to the famous Mirage IIIE. This aircraft was when it entered service within the French Air Force its time far ahead. The Mirage IIIE would have a long career within the unit; in 1988 the Mirage IIIE was replaced by the Dassault Mirage 2000N. The unit received with the transition to the Mirage 2000N immediately also the nuclear mission. La Fayette today still flies with this variant of the Mirage 2000. The aircraft of EC02.004 can be identified by the code 4-Bx on the nose of the Mirages. The Mirage 2000N is currently the only aircraft of the French Air Force which has the nuclear mission.

Besides the operational units, also a small tactical test unit is stationed at Luxeuil Air Base. This unit is referred to as CITac00.339 (Centre d'Instruction Tactique 339). The nickname of this unit is Aquitaine. The aircraft of the unit are recognized by the special code 339 on the nose of the aircraft. The test center was established in 1967 as a tactical radar unit. The unit was set up to carry out tactical tests which would be applied in the French Air Force. Shortly after its establishment, the unit received the Dassault Mystère 20. Later the unit also received the Fouga Magister for tactical use. The main tactics which were developed in this unit were the strategic tactics and procedures. These tactics were mainly used for the units that flew the Mirage IV and later the Mirage 2000N. Today, the unit is equipped with some Alpha-Jets, Jaguars and a Falcon 20SNA. The Alpha-Jets are of the type Alpha-Jet E and also the Jaguar was of the type Jaguar E. Today, the center has the task of tactical school for French fighter pilots and ground staff. CITac00.339 is stationed at a small remote part of the airfield. The unit is operating in secrecy at this location, because many tactics which are developed here are regarded as a secret of the French Air Force. Many tactics and handling of weapons which have been developed are to be integrated after evaluation in the French combat units. The small unit plays therefore an important role in the French Air Force.

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