Draken Mirage F1 achieves maiden flight [Video]

Jerry Gunner

Almost three months after its competitor ATAC, Draken International announced the maiden flight of one of its Mirage F1. The aircraft should soon serve in adversary air services for pilots of the United States Air Force.

The flight took place on November 12, 2019 over Lakeland Linder International Airport (LAL), Florida. The aircraft was a Mirage F1-B, tail number N552EM. It was regenerated with the assistance of the South African company Paramount Aerospace Systems. 

“This inaugural flight of our Mirage F1s is just the beginning,” stated Sean Gustafson, Vice President of Draken International in a press release. “Draken is fully committed to advancing the industry and delivering a service that provides safe, credible, and realistic threat replication.”

It is one of the 24 Dassault Mirage F1 fighter jets that the company has acquired. Most of them belonged to the Spanish Air Force. However, according to the FAA registry, this specific fighter jet, serial number 509, started its career within the French Air Force.

The Mirage F1 509 as part of EC 3/33 “Lorraine” (Credit: Yves Fauconnier)

In addition to the 24 Mirage F1 jets, Draken has also acquired 12 Atlas Cheetahs from the South African Air Force. The Cheetah is a modernized version of the Dassault Mirage III. The supersonic fleet should be engaged in Dissimilar Air Combat Training (DACT) at Nellis Air Force Base, where the company already operates 11 A-4 Skyhawks and 18 L-159 Honey Badgers.

The Pentagon has awarded $6.4 billion in contracts to provide realistic training, known as adversary air services (ADAIR), to the US Air Force. Seven private military companies were chosen, with a diversified fleet of aircraft ranging from Soviet fighter jets to European trainers: Air USA, Airborne Tactical Advantage Company (ATAC), Blue Air Training, Coastal Defense, Draken International, Tactical Air Support and Top Aces.

Together with a fleet of private fighter jets, these companies also train their own pilots, most of the time chosen among veterans. 

On August 22, 2019, ATAC, a subsidiary of Textron, also accomplished the first test flight of one of its Dassault Mirage F1. ATAC has acquired 63 Mirage F1 jets from the French Air Force and plans to operate about 40 of them.

The Dassault Mirage F1 is a multirole combat aircraft that entered service in 1973. Unlike other fighter jets of the Mirage family, it does not feature a delta wing and uses a more traditional swept wing instead.

Replaced in the French Armée de l’air by the Dassault Mirage 2000 and Dassault Rafale, it is still in use by five air forces around the world. The last French Mirage F1 was retired from active service in 2014. As for the Spanish Air Force, it retired its Mirage F1 a year earlier, and replaced it by the Eurofighter Typhoon.


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