Jaguar had its first flight on September 8, 1968, and entered service in 1973
For infantry the most feared was not the fire that came from the ground but from the sky, where attack planes dominated. For Europe, it was the SEPECAT Jaguar. In the early 1960s, the RAF needed an aircraft to replace the obsolete Folland Gnat T1 trainers and Hawker Hunter T7. The French Air Force was also looking for a replacement for the Lockheed T-33 and Fouga CFCs. By coincidence, France and Great Britain collaborated to develop the Sepecat Jaguar, to be used in the air support and nuclear strike roles.
Essentially, the Jaguar is a single-seat, swept-wing, twin-engine monoplane design, with a tall tricycle-style retractable landing gear. It has a length of 55 ft 3 in (16.83 m), a wingspan of 28 ft 6 in (8.69 m), a height of 16 ft 1 in (4.89 m), an empty weight of 15.432 lb (7,000 kg), and Maximum take-off weight is 34,613 lb (15,700 kg). The high-mounted main wings allow for a wide range of weapon options to suit its ground attack role. Internally, the airframe was fitted with self-sealing fuel tanks to resist ground fire. An in-flight refueling probe was added to help extend its range.
A total of 7 outer weapon hardpoints, including: 4× under-wing, 2× over-wing and 1× center-line, for an weapons load of up to 10,000 lb (4,500 kg). Typical weapons fitted included the MATRA LR.F2 rocket pod, BAP 100-mm bombs, MATRA AS37 anti-radar missiles, AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles, and Rockeye cluster bombs. The RAF’s Jaguars gained several new weapons during the Gulf War, including CRV7 high-velocity rockets and American CBU-87 cluster bombs. Finally, the Jaguar was equipped with either a pair of French DEFA cannons, or British ADEN cannons.
The Jaguar International had the unusual option of overwing pylons, used for short-range air-to-air missiles, such as the Matra R550 Magic or the Sidewinder. This option freed up the under-wing pylons for other weapons and stores. RAF Jaguars gained overwing pylons in the buildup to Operation Granby in 1990, but French Jaguars were not modified.
Jaguar’s flight performance is provided by two Rolls-Royce Turbomeca Adour Mk.102 afterburning turbofan engines, with 22.75 kN (5,110 lbf) dry thrust each, and 32.5 kN (7,300 lbf) with afterburner. Jaguar can reach a top speed of 840 mph (1,350 km/h) or Mach 1.1 at sea level, and 1,056 mph (1,699 km/h) or Mach 1.6 at 36,000 ft (11,000 m). The combat range is 506 mi (815 km), and the service ceiling is 46,000 ft (14,000 m).
The Jaguar was exported to India, Oman, Ecuador and Nigeria. The aircraft was used in numerous conflicts and military operations in Mauritania, Chad, Iraq, Bosnia, and Pakistan, as well as providing a ready nuclear delivery platform for the United Kingdom, France, and India throughout the latter half of the Cold War and beyond. In the Gulf War, the Jaguar was praised for its reliability and was a valuable coalition resource. The aircraft served with the French Air Force as the main strike aircraft until July 1, 2005, and with the Royal Air Force until the end of April 2007. It was replaced by the Panavia Tornado and the Eurofighter Typhoon in the RAF and the Dassault Rafale in the French Air Force.
Jaguar’s sole operator is currently India. Indian Jaguars were used to carry out reconnaissance missions in support of the Indian Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka between 1987 and 1990. They later played an active role in the 1999 Kargil War with Pakistan, dropping both unguided and laser-guided bombs. The Jaguar is also used in small numbers for the anti-ship role, equipped with the Sea Eagle missile. The Jaguar remains an important element of the Indian military as along with the Mirage 2000, the Jaguar has been described as one of the few aircraft capable of performing the nuclear strike role with reasonable chances of success.