Mirage F.1 Retirement - article   Armée de l'air - Air to Air   Low-level Flying in France
French Air Force - Armée de l'Air
Mont de Marsan (BA 118)

May 2014

Escadron de Reconnaissance 2/33 (ER 02.033) named 'Savoie'.
Mirage F.1CR (611 '118-NM'). The Mirage F.1 has internal fuel tanks with a capacity of 4,100 litres, it can carry a pair of 1,200 litre known a ‘Little Fox’ tanks under the wings or a massive ‘Big Fox’ tank held under the fuselage with a capacity of 2,300 litres. The ‘Big Fox’ was designed for the Iraqi Air Force but were not delivered due to an embargo. The single tank enables four bombs to be carried under the wings as opposed to just two. However the aircraft is then very heavy making handling very difficult especially as the tank does not have internal compartments to stop the fuel moving around which makes air to air refuelling a challenge.
Mirage F.1CR special tails (653 '118-CV', 660 '118-CY' and 611 '118-NM') and Mirage F.1B (502 '118-SW').
The specially painted Mirage F.1s were designed to represent all the Mirage F.1 standards flown over the years; the blue for the air defence and their current operations, the green camouflage for reconnaissance, sand camouflage for operations in Africa and a Mirage F.1B twin seat.
Left to right: Mirage F.1Bs (510 '118-SL' and 517 '118-SC') and Mirage F.1CR (659 '118-NT').

Mirage 2000D (650 '133-IA')
Left to right: Mirage 2000D (650 '133-IA') and Alpha Jet E (E151 '118-FD') of Escadron ECE 05.330 Côte d'Argent'.
Left to right: Mirage 2000D (650 '133-IA') in the markings of Escadron EC 02.003 'Champagne', Escadrille SPA 67 'Cicogne de Navarre' based at BA 133 Nancy.

Escadron de Chasse 2/30 (EC 02.030) named 'Normandie-Niemen'.
Dassault Rafale C (128 '118-GG') of Escadron de Chasse EC 02.030 'Normandie-Niemen'.
Left to right: Rafale C (116 '118-IU') of Escadron de Chasse EC 02.030 'Normandie-Niemen'.
Left to right: Rafale C (123 '118-GB')
Rafale C (128 '118-GG')
Left to right: Rafale C (128 '118-GG')
Left to right: Rafale C (118 '118-IW')
Left to right: Rafale C (126 '118-GE')
Left to right: Rafale C (123 '118-GB')
Left to right: Rafale C (128 '118-GG')
Left to right: Rafale C (128 '118-GG') and Rafale C (102 '118-EF') of Escadron ECE 05.330 Côte d'Argent'.

At low-level
Dassault Rafale C (129 '118-GH') in the markings of Escadron EC 02.030 'Normandie-Niemen') on a low-level training flight. Just a few days later on June 25, 2012 the unit was declared fully operational at BA 118 Mont-de-Marsan.
The first of 212 Rafale B/Cs on order entered service with EC 01.007 at BA 113 St.Dizier-Robinson in 2005 becoming fully operational in 2007, deliveries to the Armée de l'Air should continue until 2015.
The Rafale is a true multi-role fighter capable of; air defence, close air support, interdiction, reconnaissance and nuclear deterrence. It has been designed to fly using either an air-to-air or air-to-ground mode, uniquely this mode is switchable in flight with the press of a button. A warning will alert the pilot to targets on the ground when flying using the air-to-air mode and vice versa. This capability is made possible by the Thales RBE-2 radar which will look-up and look-down to detect and track multiple air targets, in all weather and in a jammed environment. It also has the ability to generate of three-dimensional high resolution maps for terrain-following above uncharted terrain in blind conditions for navigation and targeting in real time. An enhanced radar using a Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) was installed in a test aircraft (Rafale serial 137) in February 2012. It is anticipated that the Armée de l'Air will have five AESA equipped aircraft operational by the end of 2013.

Preserved on base
Left to right: Dassault Mirage IIIR (348 '33-NL')