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The End of the French SEPECAT Jaguar; Cazaux, June 12, 2005

The Armée de l'Air, part 2; Text and Photograph's by Alex van Noye

Also the French Jaguar is going to be decommissioned in addition to the retirement of the Mirage III and Mirage IV. The Meeting National in Cazaux was used for the final public event of the Jaguar. The Jaguar will be retired after 35 years of service. The Jaguars at Saint-Dizier are going to be replaced by the Rafale.

The SEPECAT Jaguar is a fighter-bomber which was developed by a French-English partnership at the beginning of the 60s. The Jaguar was developed by Breguet and the British Aerospace Corporation. The aircraft constructors joined a partnership to build the Jaguar which was called the Société Européenne de Production de l'Avion d'École de Combat et d'Appui Tactique (SEPECAT). The aircraft was primarily designed to give ground support (close air support). Later versions of the Jaguar were also equipped for attack missions. In addition, the aircraft can be used as a trainer. The Jaguar had to be the replacement of the obsolete French Lockheed T-33s T-Bird and the Fouga Magister and in England the replacement of the British Folland Gnat and Hawker Hunter. The first prototype of the Jaguar flew on September 8, 1968. The aircraft was a two-seater variant and it went for the first time supersonic during its third test flight. The Jaguar crashed during the landing on March 26, 1970. The second prototype flew for the first time in February 1969. The first design of the aircraft would lead to the Jaguar A for the French AdlA. The British version of the Jaguar eventually became known as the Jaguar Gr1. Also a prototype of the Jaguar M was built in November 1969. This aircraft was equipped with an arrestor hook and a stronger landing gear for landing on a carrier. The project was canceled in 1973 after some good tests because the aircraft was too expensive. The French Navy bought the Super Etendard instead of the Jaguar M. The AdlA had chosen for the Jaguar.

The first Jaguar entered service at the AdlA in 1973. In total there are 160 single-seat Jaguars and 40 dual seat Jaguars purchased by France. The single-seat version of the Jaguar was in France known as the Jaguar A and the two-seat version was known as the Jaguar E. The Jaguar can carry next to its conventional weapons also the French nuclear AN-52 bomb under its wings. The French government did not make any use of these capabilities, because only the Mirage IV was eventually used in the

French Force de Frappe. The Mirage 2000N received this task later. The Jaguars received a semi-strategic role. The Jaguars of EC7 in Saint-Dizier had to guide the French strategic bombers in times of war. The AN-52 bomb retired from service in 1991 and the Jaguars of EC7 received their conventional job again. The Jaguars were from this moment equipped with an ECM system and they were provided with anti-radar missiles. The Jaguar was also upgraded with an air to air refueling system. The aircraft were used against enemy radar installations. The Jaguar was regularly temporarily stationed in North Africa to defend the interests of France in the 70s. The first operational deployment of the Jaguar was in December 1977 as part of Operation Lamantin. A rapid reaction force was set up to support the French troops which were deployed worldwide in 1978. France was already for many years involved in the conflict in Chad with 2,000 men of the Force d'Intervention. Several helicopters and Jaguars were deployed in 1978 to defend the center of Chad. Jaguars were deployed to support several French military operations in Bangui in 1983 during Operation Manta. The aircraft were later based at N'Djamena International Airport in Chad. Jaguars attacked a rebel convoy which just had robbed the city Zigey on January 25, 1984. Libya denied any involvement in this action and in 1984 the French troops were withdrawn as a result of an escalation agreement. The Libyans did not stick to the Convention and as a result, the Jaguars were again sent to Chad in 1986. There were 11 Jaguars involved in the actions. The Jaguars were protected by Mirage F1s during an attack on the airfield at Wadi Doum. The French Jaguars bombed the airfield with BAP-100 anti-runway bombs.

France had 9 operational Jaguar squadrons between 1977 and 2005. The units were divided over 4 airfields. The first Jaguar airfield housed only one Jaguar unit. The Escadron de Chasse 3/3 "Ardennes" flew from Nancy with the Jaguar between 1977 and 1987. The second Jaguar airfield is Saint-Dizier. This airbase is the longest active base which operates the Jaguar. There were 4 Jaguar units stationed at Saint-Dizier which are assigned to EC7; this unit is still operational with the Jaguar. The first unit is the Escadron de Chasse 1/7 "Provence"; this unit was equipped with the Jaguar in 1973. It is also the last unit in France which still flies the Jaguar. The second unit at Saint-Dizier is Escadron de Chasse 2/7 "Argonne". This unit was the French OCU which used the Jaguar and it was operational since October 1974; the unit was disbanded in June 2001. The third squadron is Escadron de Chasse 3/7 "Languedoc". This unit flew the Jaguar since March 1974 and was disbanded in July 1997. The last unit at Saint-Dizier was Escadron de Chasse 4/7 "Limousin". This unit was established in April 1980 at Saint-Dizier, the unit was quickly moved to Istress which became the third Jaguar airfield. The unit was disbanded in July 1989. The fourth and final Jaguar airfield in France was Toul. This base is already closed, but in the past it housed 4 Jaguar units which were assigned to EC11. The first unit at Toul was Escadron de Chasse 1/11 "Roussillon". This squadron received its Jaguars in March 1976 and was disbanded in June 1994. The second squadron which operated the Jaguar at Toul was Escadron de Chasse 2/11 "Vosges". This squadron received its Jaguars in June 1977 and was disbanded in July 1996. The third unit was Escadron de Chasse 3/11 "Corse". The squadron received its first Jaguars in February 1975. This unit was the last unit at Toul and was disbanded in July 1997. The fourth and final squadron at Toul was the Escadron de Chasse 4/11 "Jura". The unit flew also temporarily from Bordeaux-Merignac. This unit was founded in 1978 and disbanded in June 1992. The Jaguar era in France will come to an end after more than 35 years. The Jaguar is replaced by the Dassault Rafale from the beginning of 2005. These aircraft are based at Saint-Dizier in the northern part of France.

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