in Defence / Features

Why the Mirage F1 is of Paramount importance

Posted 2 November 2018 · Add Comment

Paramount Group, the South African-based global aerospace and defence company, has become the prime contractor for the maintenance, repair and modernisation of recently retired Mirage F1 supersonic multi-role fighter aircraft. David Oliver reports.

Developed 50 years ago by the French manufacturer, Dassault, for the France’s Armee de l’Air (French Air Force), more than 730 Mirage F1 supersonic multi-role fighter aircraft were produced by 1990.
Many of them were exported to 10 countries, including South Africa and Spain.
With a maximum speed of 1,450mph or Mach 2.2, the highly manoeuvrable F1 was supersonic at sea level and had an impressive climb rate of 42,000ft/min.
Paramount Group acquired the entire South African Air Force (SAAF) Mirage F1AZ fleet, along with engines, spares, simulators and training aids. The Mirage F1 represented an ideal solution for low-cost supersonic fighter capability, and Paramount offers a complete air-power package, with full training and technical support for the aircraft.
Paramount Aerospace Systems, a subsidiary of Paramount Group, has been supporting a number of African air forces, including those of the Republic of Congo and Gabon, in the acquisition, training, maintenance and technical operation of former SAAF F1AZ fighter aircraft for many years. In this context, Paramount also operates a fighter aircraft pilot training academy in South Africa, the only one of its kind on the African continent. 

The Paramount Aviation Academy allows students to train within a military environment and according to military doctrine throughout. In October 2017, the group announced a significant enhancement of its pilot training capability through its acquisition of four former French Air Force two-seat Mirage F1B aircraft.
Brian Greyling, CEO of Paramount Aerospace Systems, said: “One of the most important trends in today’s military aviation market is the increasing utilisation of legacy aircraft for adversary training by air forces. The new acquisition of the Mirage F1 aircraft will inject additional ‘top gun’ capability into Paramount Group’s advanced pilot training programmes.
“We are now recognised as the only privately owned aerospace company in the world that is capable of offering military-type aircraft training from ab initio to supersonic fighter capability.”
Ivor Ichikowitz, group chairman of Paramount Group, said: “The global economic slowdown has reduced the defence budgets of most countries in the world, resulting in cuts across many defence sectors including aircraft, naval vessels and military vehicles. Such budgetary constraints are driving the decrease in procurement of new military aircraft, helicopters and UAVs, and place huge emphasis on more affordable solutions, such as maintenance, repair and modernisation of existing equipment and the associated training requirements.
“Through decades of expertise, continuous innovation and the strengthening of our aircraft upgrade, maintenance, integration, logistics and training solutions, we are optimally positioned to provide this capability to any air force in the world.
“We are very proud of this world-class African capability, which is critical for extending the service life of aircraft while reducing the high acquisition costs of new equipment. The company is well positioned to become one of the major global players in this space, and the acquisition and placing of these aircraft into service furthers this objective.”
In April 2018, Draken International, a major US-based provider of adversary air services, signed an agreement with Paramount Aerospace Systems for the overhaul and on-going engineering support of its recently acquired fleet of Mirage F1M aircraft from the Spanish Air Force.
Draken acquired 22 single-seat and two-seat F1M fighter aircraft in an effort to enhance adversary services for its US Department of Defense (DoD) and allied nation customers.
In 1996, 51 Spanish single-seat F1CE and four two-seat F1EE aircraft were upgraded by Thomson-CSF, now Thales Group, to F1M configuration. This featured a number of improvements, including advanced head-up display (HUD) with integrated radar, HOTAS system, modernised Cyrano IVM radar for accurate ground-attack capability in four different modes, night vision goggles (NVG) compatibility, inertial navigator Sagem ULISS 47 and AIM-9 JULI Sidewinder compatibility.
The Mirage F1Ms, along with recent purchase of 12 supersonic radar-equipped former SAAF Denel Cheetah fighter aircraft, will increase Draken’s fleet size to more than 150 fighter aircraft.

 

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