On Friday 13 June 2014, it was ‘au revoir’ to the Dassault Mirage F-1 for the Armée de l’air. In a ceremony at Mont-de-Marsan airbase in southern France, the type was withdrawn from service after 40 years. Reconnaissance unit ER 2/33 ‘Savoie’ was the last unit to operate the Mirage F-1.
If there ever was a fighter aircraft with the sleek lines of a sports car, it’s the Dassault F-1. The type was used in various roles and versions in France. The basic F-1C was used as an interceptor at first and a multi purpose fighter in later stages, while the F-1B was used as a trainer. Air-to-air refuelling capacity was added to the F-1C-200. Other versions were the camera equipped F-1CR and the air-to-ground specialized F-1CT.
The Armée de l’air flew F-1’s from the airbases of Orange, Strassbourg, Reims-Champagne, Colmar and Mont-de-Marsan. The type was also used during operations over Chad, Iraq, Kosovo and most recently, Afghanistan.
The Mirage F-1 first flew on 23 December 1966 and since served in large number in France, South Africa, Ecuador, Kuwait, Qatar, Greece, Jordan and Spain amongst others. The classic shape is still to be seen in the skies over Morocco, Libya and Iran. The latter operates former Iraqi air force aircraft. Argentina last year bought surplus F-1s from Spain.
© 2014 AIRheads’ editor Elmer van Hest