American contract air services provider, Draken International has successfully commenced supersonic radar equipped Mirage F1M missions in support of U.S. Air Force combat readiness training at Nellis Air Force Base.
The fully modernized Mirage F1Ms, predominately flown by the Spanish Air Force in the past, now challenge U.S. and coalition 4th and 5th Generation fighter jets over the skies of the Nevada Test and Training Range (NTTR) in the development of warfighter’s tactics, techniques, and procedures, Draken said in a statement.
Draken remains the only commercial air service provider to have purchased, imported, certified, and executed sustained flight operations with threat-representative fighter aircraft. These critical capabilities inherent to the Draken F1 fleet, are essential for supporting the Nellis Adversary Air (ADAIR) II contract, which provides adversary training for the prestigious USAF Weapons School, Red Flag exercises, operational test support, Formal Training Unit support, and Combat Air Forces abroad.
Over the past two years, the collaborative efforts between Draken International and Paramount Aerospace Systems have resulted in the reassembly, restoration, and certification of the fleet of Mirage F1s. This extensive project was accomplished at Draken’s maintenance facility in Lakeland, FL. Draken has also begun the acceptance of the fleet of Denel Cheetah’s from the South African Air Force; a 4th Generation supersonic radar-equipped fighter that joins Draken’s operational fleet.
“Draken is fully committed to enhancing adversary support for the USAF. These fleets of supersonic assets highlight the dedication to fulfilling combat readiness training objectives at Nellis and Air Force bases across the U.S. Our ever-growing fleet of advanced fighters enrich our capabilities and challenge Airmen, Sailors, and Marines alike”, said Sean Gustafson, VP of Business Development at Draken.
Draken’s Mirage F1M/B Purchase
In 2017, Draken announced the purchase of 22 Mirage F1M single-seat and F1B twin-seat fighter jets. The Mirage F1Ms were predominantly flown by the Spanish Air Force.
Draken regenerated the aircraft with assistance from Paramount Aerospace Systems, a subsidiary of South Africa’s Paramount Group. The first regenerated Mirage F1 aircraft conducted its maiden flight over Lakeland Linder International Airport in Lakeland, Florida on Nov. 12 last year.
The new Mirage F1s joined Draken’s 13 Douglas A-4 Skyhawk and 23 Aero Vodochody L-159 “Honey Badger” aircraft that is supporting the U.S. Air Force with adversary air services out of Nellis AFB.
In 1996, the Spanish Air Force, along with Thomson-CSF (Thales Group), spent $96M on a modernization upgrade, including cockpit enhancements, LCD MFDs, Advanced HUD, INS/GPS, Electronic Attack systems and a special performance upgrade for the Cyrano IVM radar. The Spanish Mirage F1M fleet was decommissioned in February 2013 and stored in Albacete Air Base, Spain until Draken’s purchase in September 2017.
Dassault Mirage F1
Dassault Mirage F1 is a French fighter and attack aircraft designed and manufactured by Dassault Aviation. It was developed as a successor to the popular Mirage III family, and was succeeded in production by the Dassault Mirage 2000.
Powered by a single SNECMA Atar 9K-50 turbojet engine, which provided about 7 tonnes-force (69 kN; 15,000 lbf) of thrust, and armed with an array of French and American-sourced armaments, the Mirage F1 has been operated as a light multipurpose fighter and has been exported to around a dozen nations.