In the late 1960’s, as the British Royal Air Force (RAF) and the French Armée de l'Air prepared to replace their aging ground-attack fleet, the two nations came together to produce a brand new aircraft to suit both of their needs. Read about the SEPECAT Jaguar and add SEPECAT Jaguar PlaneTags to your collection today.
Photo by Richard E Flagg, UKAirfields , used with permission
The SEPECAT Jaguar is a collaborative ground-attack and reconnaissance aircraft developed jointly by the United Kingdom and France in the late 1960s. Its name, an abbreviation of “Société Européenne de Production de l'Avion d'École de Combat et d'Appui Tactique” reflects its unique international development. The Jaguar was designed to replace existing ground-attack aircraft in both the British Royal Air Force (RAF) and the French Armée de l'Air. It had several variants tailored to specific roles, with the GR.1 and GR.3 serving primarily as ground-attack aircraft and the E variants acting as two-seat trainers.
Powered by two Adour Mk 102 turbofan engines, designed and built jointly by Rolls-Royce of U.K. and Turbomeca of France, the SEPECAT Jaguar had a top speed of approximately Mach 1.6 and a range of around 1,000 miles. Its low-level flying capabilities and versatile armament, which included air-to-ground missiles, unguided rockets, and a 30mm Aden cannon, made it well-suited for its ground-attack role. The Jaguar served in various air forces worldwide, including the RAF, French Armée de l'Air, Indian Air Force, and Royal Air Force of Oman. It participated in several conflicts, such as the Gulf War, before gradually being retired from active service in the mid 2000’s.
Photo by Richard E Flagg, UKAirfields , used with permission
Despite its retirement from military service in many countries, the SEPECAT Jaguar left a lasting legacy as a rugged and versatile ground-attack aircraft. It was known for its ability to operate from unprepared airstrips and its contributions to ground-attack missions. Some Jaguars can still be found in museums such as Pima Air and Space Museum, and private collections, as a reminder of its significant role in military aviation history.
The development of the SEPECAT Jaguar was the result of a collaborative effort between the United Kingdom and France to create a versatile ground-attack and reconnaissance aircraft. The origins of the Jaguar program can be traced back to the 1960s when both the RAF and the Armée de l'Air recognized the need to replace their aging ground-attack aircraft and develop a supersonic jet trainer. In an effort to share development costs and technical expertise, the two nations initiated a partnership to create a new aircraft. The name "SEPECAT" was derived from the project's full title, Société Européenne de Production de l'Avion d'École de Combat et d'Appui Tactique.
The RAF wanted to replace the Folland Gnat T1 and Hawker Hunter T7, while the French needed a replacement for the Fouga Magister, Lockheed T-33 and Dassault Mystère IV. Several companies submitted their designs, including BAC, Hunting, Hawker Siddeley and Folland in Britain, and Breguet, Potez, Sud-Aviation, Nord, and Dassault in France.
Actual production of the components were divided between Breguet and BAC, with a separate production assembly line in each country. Similarly, Rolls-Royce and Turbomeca formed a separate partnership to develop the Adour turbofan engine. During the development and production, both British and French requirements had changed, proving a need for more than a trainer with secondary light strike capabilities. The resulting aircraft was a high-tech, supersonic plane, capable of ground attack, close air support, and nuclear strike. The first SEPECAT Jaguar prototype took its maiden flight on September 8, 1968, followed by seven more prototypes.
The SEPECAT Jaguar's collaborative development was a testament to international cooperation in the aerospace industry, which was relatively rare at the time. The aircraft's successful development and subsequent service in multiple air forces highlighted its effectiveness in ground-attack and reconnaissance roles. The Jaguar's long and distinguished service history demonstrated the benefits of cross-border partnerships in the defense sector, despite the challenges associated with multinational projects.
The SEPECAT Jaguar was a versatile ground-attack and reconnaissance aircraft with a range of features that made it well-suited for its mission. First, the Jaguar was designed for low-level flying, allowing it to operate effectively in close air support missions and evade enemy radar.
Powered by two Adour turbofan engines, it was more than equipped with sufficient thrust for its missions. The Jaguar could carry a variety of weapons, including air-to-ground missiles, unguided rockets, and a 30mm Aden cannon. It also featured retractable landing gear, which contributed to its streamlined design during low-level flight. The Jaguar also incorporated composite materials in its construction to reduce weight and improve performance.
The Jaguar featured advanced avionics and radar systems to enhance its ground-attack and reconnaissance capabilities. Its maximum range of approximately 1,000 miles allowed it to cover significant distances, while its top speed was around Mach 1.6, enabling it to quickly respond to threats and perform attack runs.
The Jaguar was capable of performing a variety of roles, including ground-attack, reconnaissance, and close air support. It served in various air forces around the world, including the RAF, French Armée de l'Air, Indian Air Force, and others; notably it participated in the Gulf War, where it played a significant role in ground-attack missions. While it has been retired from active military service in many countries, some Jaguars can still be found in museums and private collections, serving as a reminder of its historic significance in military aviation.
The number of SEPECAT Jaguars built and the breakdown of production by variant varied among the air forces that operated them. The total production of Jaguars across all types is estimated at around 575 aircraft. Here are some of the primary or notable variants and how the SEPECAT Jaguars were distributed:
Yes, the SEPECAT Jaguar is still being used in the Indian Air Force in 2023. For many years, the IAF planned to replace the engines in their fleet or take advantage of the Jaguar upgrade suite, designated as Jaguar MAX, also known as Display Attack Ranging Inertial Navigation-III Plus (DARIN III+), however the IAF had reconsidered the plan due to the time required and the high cost. Instead, as reported in 2019, a phase-out plan was to begin in 2023 and be spread out over 15 years until 2038.
As of August 2023, it was reported that the IAF is focusing on acquiring 100 locally produced LCA Mark-1A fighter jets to replace its aged MiG-21 fighters. The IAF currently has 40 Tejas Mark-1, with 83 Mark-1A approved and ready for delivery in 2024. Additionally, the IAF also has:
The SEPECAT Jaguar had a significant presence in the Indian Air Force (IAF) and played a crucial role in the country's military aviation history. India acquired its fleet of SEPECAT Jaguar aircraft during the 1980s, making it one of the primary operators of the Jaguar outside of the U.K. and France. The IAF operated two main variants of the Jaguar, which were the Jaguar IS (Interceptor Strike) for ground-attack and strike missions and the Jaguar IB (Interceptor Bomber) for anti-ship and maritime strike missions.
The SEPECAT Jaguars of the Indian Air Force showcased their versatility and effectiveness in various operations, such as the 1999 Kargil War, where the Jaguar aircraft were deployed for precision strikes against enemy positions in the mountainous regions of Jammu and Kashmir. With their low-level flying capabilities and the ability to carry a mix of bombs and air-to-ground missiles, the Jaguars proved instrumental in neutralizing enemy strongholds in challenging terrain. Over the years, the IAF gradually upgraded and modernized its Jaguar fleet to enhance its capabilities. While the Jaguar is being gradually phased out in favor of more modern aircraft, its service in the IAF is a testament to its significance in bolstering India's airpower and defense capabilities.
XX737 was built as a Jaguar GR.1, first taking flight on August 27, 1974. It was one of twelve Jaguars delivered to No. 54 Squadron in their new home at RAF Coltishall. XX737 was transferred to the Indian Air Force in 1980, then returned briefly to RAF Coltishall No. 6 Squadron in 1982 after being converted to a GR.3A. On March 23, 1983 XX737 was retired to RAF Shawbury, followed by many years in storage in both Britain and the U.S. In 2021, it was acquired by Pima Air & Space Museum. In 2023, Pima provided the skin from the derelict aircraft to MotoArt, and will use its remaining parts for another Jaguar restoration.
In 2023, MotoArt once again had the opportunity to work with Pima Air and Space Museum to introduce a new plane to PlaneTags collectors. “Being invited into the Pima Air & Space backlot was the first thrill for me,” recalls MotoArt PlaneTags owner Dave Hall. “I remember back in 2002 always looking at that yard and wishing I had the opportunity to work with the museum. It wasn't until several years ago we first had that opportunity. Working with the museum to help preserve some of their derelicts was literally a dream come true.”
The team, starting at the top with Hall, was excited to learn more about the Jaguar. “First seeing the Jaguar was a moment of, ‘what is it?’ Obviously it was something of significance but it was only the mid section of the jet. When Scott Marchand explained to us it was a SEPECAT Jaguar, we knew we were all about to be educated on this amazing French fighter.”
SEPECAT Jaguar PlaneTags have landed at planetags.com. They are numbered in a series of 1750 and will be initially available in the following colors: