France and the UK built the Jaguar attack aircraft as a joint venture. The two countries realised they had similar requirements for an aircraft so why not come together to build it?
It was first brought in to action in 1973 and is still in use today by the Indian Air Force. The French retired it in 2005 and our own Air Force in 2007. The jet has had a good few decades of work
Small, Fast and Dangerous
Despite being a small jet, it was fast and it was had a big fuel tank. It could out do competitor aircraft like the Mikoyan MiG-27 on distance by covering 530 miles, using just internal fuel supplies. The Jaguar also had an external weapons load capacity of 10,000 lb meaning it could pack a devastating punch in attack mode.
Its primary aim was to be used as low-level tactical attack aircraft and to also conduct reconnaissance missions. They could “shave” the rocks it was said, because they could get so low when flying.
In the nose was a laser ranger and could attack targets that had been laser targeted by other parties. It would mean ground troops getting closer to the enemy but the Jaguar could wipe them out devastatingly quickly and accurately, as long as the initial targeting was correct of course.
In 1975 Jaguar squadrons were declared operational to SACEUR and they were loaded up with the WE.177 nuclear weapons. They were designed to take off from rough airstrips where other aircraft couldn’t. This was tested multiple times including with a full payload by taking off from the M55 motorway. You can’t get worse than a British road as an example of a rough airstrip.
In 1983, 89 Jaguars were upgraded with FIN1064 navigation and attack systems. Although they improved this side of the aircraft, they weren’t stacked with top of the range technology and still didn’t have a radar.
1990 saw an initial 12 aircraft assigned to the Gulf War. They were upgraded with cluster bombs because the BL755 bombs they were already using were designed for release at low-level, something that wouldn’t be ideal in this theatre.
The pilots of the 12 aircraft flew 612 combat sorties without a single one being lost. Job done.
2003 saw the second Iraq war take place but there was to be no action for the Jaguars. Turkey was the planned base to launch attacks from the North. The Turkish government refused access to their airbases. The Turks scrapped the plan and played no part.
The government cut the defence budget in 2004. They decided to withdraw the Jaguar from active use in 2007. It happened, even being brought forward to April from October with just five days notice. Quinetiq conducted the last British military Jaguar flight on 20th December 2007.