The SEPECAT Jaguar was a joint aircraft venture between Britain and France to produce a supersonic, low-level strike fighter. The aircraft went on to find limited successes in the partnership and see equally limited sales on the foreign market. India joined the host nations as one of the largest supporters of the Jaguar but has since made plans to replace the type with a more modern breed. Despite its limited reach, the Jaguar went on to see combat actions in several notable conflicts during the 1990s and a few nations still maintain the aircraft in operational form. In all, some 543 total Jaguar aircraft were completed by SEPECAT, BAe and HAL of India.
In 1962, the British Royal Air Force and the French Air Force found themselves with a similar need for a new capable aircraft system. The British sought to replace their aging series of Folland Gnat T.Mk 1 and Hawker Hunter T.Mk 7 trainers with a modern advanced supersonic type while the French were looking for an intermediate subsonic aircraft type to replace their Fouga Magister and Lockheed T-33 jet trainers, their Dassault Mystere IV fighters and fill the gap behind their Mirage family of high performance fighters. In 1965, the two nations formally came together with an agreement and, in 1966, the two sides were represented by the British Aircraft Corporation (Warton Division) and Breguet. The collaborative effort was given the acronym of "SEPECAT" - "Societe Europeenne de Production de l'Avion d'Ecole de Combat et d'Appui Tactique" which translated to "European Production Company for the Combat Training and Tactical Support Aircraft". To showcase Breguet's lead in the design effort, BAC registered its company within France. The joint effort would become the first time that two major European nations would attempt to produce an operational combat aircraft jointly.
The Jaguar A and Jaguar S models both fielded a retractable refueling probe along the starboard side of the forward fuselage to assist in in-flight refueling, further increasing operational ranges. Some Jaguar B models for the French held a fixed refueling probe in the nose as did some export production Jaguars. The Jaguar B model was the two-seat trainer version that fitted a second cockpit along an elongated fuselage. These airframes were completed with their full avionics suites and navigation systems but were sans the lasers that provided for their true war-making capacity. Additionally, the trainer models also lost the starboard side 30mm cannon, lacked radar warning receivers and were delivered without the in-flight refueling probes.
It is of note that the Jaguar in RAF service was not fitted with powerful radar to help in interception sorties as were the major mounts of the Cold War and they did not incorporate much of what made their McDonnell F-4 Phantom IIs such potent war machines. However, the Jaguar was still seen as an overall improvement considering the British need for she delivered a flexible weapons suite capable of accurate targeting in all-weather situations and her low-level flying at Mach 1 speed made her increasingly difficult to target and intercept by a given enemy. Consistent with other European aircraft designs, the Jaguar was also given excellent STOL capabilities that allowed her to utilize stretches of roadways as emergency airstrips in the event of all-out war in Europe.
Jaguar armament was highly flexible across two underwing hardpoints and a centerline underfuselage placement. The aircraft could field air-to-air missiles, air-to-surface missiles, conventional drop bombs, laser-guided bombs and rocket pods as needed. The high wings made for relatively easy access to each underwing hardpoint. For close-in work, there were a pair of 30mm cannons fitted under the cockpit floor (with 150 rounds per gun). In the Jaguar International export model, "overwing" hardpoints (as fielded by the BAC / English Electric Lightning) supported an additional pair of air-to-air missiles (restricted to the AIM-9 Sidewinder or Matra R550 Magic short-range missiles). The GR.Mk 1A was rated to carry up to 10,000lbs of external ordnance including fuel tanks.
It was only natural that this joint design effort produce a solution for the British and French navies. As such, the Jaguar "M" (prototype M05) was conceived as a navalized form of the base Jaguar. To cover the rigors of carrier-based operation, this single-seat variant utilized a reinforced structure and undercarriage and had her nose wheel leg lengthened. An arrestor hook was fitted aft and a laser rangefinder was standard.
M05 achieved first flight on November 14th, 1969 out of Melun/Villaroche and ended up at Istres on the 21st of that month for further evaluation by French authorities. By the 20th of April the following year, the M05 was handed over to the Royal Aircraft Establishment of Bedford in England to begin British trials from a dummy carrier deck. On July 10th, M05 completed her first successful launching by catapult. A dozen carrier deck landings and launches were completed by the 13th to which M05 was then utilized on actual carrier at sea from June 24th to July 14th, 1971. During this evaluation period, she was tested against catapult launches and arrestor cable retrievals with full external stores in place. From October 20th to the 27th of that same year, M05 completed twenty further carrier actions, these at her listed take-off weight.
Despite the promising start, French Navy authorities were keenly aware of the operating costs inherent in the new, complex system and began to curtail their procurement needs to just 100 Jaguar Ms. This, in effect, would result in less aircraft to replace their outgoing fleet of capable Dassault Etendard IV carrier-based fighters, forcing the Navy to consider other alternatives including American products.
In 1971, Dassault had purchased the Breguet aviation firm and, as the deal closed, Dassault inherited the Jaguar program by default - this including its 50% Jaguar profit sharing signed with the British. However, Dassault saw a much larger stake in the sale of their own products to the French Navy for they could yield 100% of the profit directly back to Dassault pockets. The Jaguar was something of a threat to the fine line of Mirage fighters already in play at the company and the corporation began pressing its new and improved "Super Etendard" fighter aircraft against the French Navy need. Despite a French government mandate in November of 1972 ordering Dassault to not push the Super Etendard, the French Navy went on to announce - just two months later - that it was purchasing Super Etendards to solidify its carrier air arm. This situation left a bad impression on the British half of the Jaguar program, many who now felt their partner had sold them out in pushing its own dedicated product line over that of the joint venture product - all in the name of bigger profits. As such, the Jaguar M navalized form failed to materialize.
To deliver the new Jaguar breed to the foreign market, the "Jaguar International" was developed. Manufacturing was handled by BAe and these aircraft were based on the Jaguar S / GR.Mk 1 strike model with some slight revisions. One particular item of note were the "overwing" hardpoints for short-range, air-to-air missiles as a standard feature. Additionally, Jaguar Internationals were given uprated engines.
India became the largest customer of the Jaguar International/Jaguar IS/Jaguar IT and began handling license-production of the aircraft by HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited) under the designation of "Shamsher". 38 were purchased while a further 140 were produced in-house. Some were eventually fitted with Agave radar installations with provision to accept the capable "Sea Eagle" anti-ship missile (Jaguar IM). The Agave radar was then upgraded with Israeli Elbit EL/M-2032 radar for improved lethality. Some two-seater Jaguars in Indian service were also outfitted with the DARIN nav/attack system for night sorties. Engines have a planned upgrade by India to either Adour Mk 821 series or Honeywell F125IN. Indian Jaguars have seen service with No.5, No. 6, No. 14, No. 16, No. 27 and No. 224 squadrons.
France retired their fleet of Jaguars in 2005 with the British following in 2007 after a defense budget review. For the French, the Jaguar was replaced by the Dassault Rafale multirole fighter. For the British, the Eurofighter Typhoon has replaced the Jaguar. Other operators of the Jaguar system ultimately became Ecuador, Nigeria and Oman.
Only India actively operates the Jaguar in any capacity (2017). India has active plans to replace their aged Jaguars with the results of the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) program in the near future. Oman Jaguars (Jaguar OS/OB) made it to the GR.Mk 3A standard before seeing retirement (in August 2014) and served with No. 8 and No. 20 squadrons. Ecuadorian Jaguars (Jaguar ES/EB) fell into storage but , during their active days, flew with Escuadron de Combate 2111. Nigerian Jaguars (Jaguar SN/BN) have all been retired.
The Jaguar went on to see combat operations in several high-profile conflicts. British and French Jaguars operated in the 1991 Gulf War while British Jaguars took part in the upcoming Balkan Wars. French Jaguars served in the Kosovo War (1998-1999) while India fielded their Jaguars in the Kargil War (1999) against Pakistan. Ecuador unleashed their Jaguars in a limited role during the 1995 Cenepa War with Peru.
- Ground Attack
- Reconnaissance (RECCE)
55.22 ft (16.83 m)
28.51 ft (8.69 m)
16.04 ft (4.89 m)
16,976 lb (7,700 kg)
34,613 lb (15,700 kg)
1,056 mph (1,700 kph; 918 kts)
45,207 feet (13,779 m; 8.56 miles)
528 miles (850 km; 459 nm)
2 x 30mm ADEN OR DEFA internal cannons.
Up to 10,000 lbs (4,500kg) of various air-to-air and air-to-surface external stores including Matra rocket pods (18 x 68mm SNEB rockets), AS-37 Martel air-to-surface missiles, conventional bombs, precision-guided drop bombs, anti-ship missiles, AIM-9 Sidewinder/Matra R550 "Magic" air-to-air missiles (as well as other short-range and medium-range types) and speciality mission pods as needed.
Breguet Br.121 - French Concept Designation
Jaguar A - Single-Seat, All-Weather Ground Attack Strike Fighter for French use.
Jaguar B - Two-Seat Trainer
Jaguar E - Two-Seat Trainer
Jaguar S - Single-Seat All-Weather Ground Attack Strike Fighter
Jaguar GR.Mk 1 - RAF Jaguar S.
Jaguar GR.Mk 1A - Upgraded GR.Mk 1 models.
Jaguar GR.Mk 1B - TIALD-capable upgraded GR.Mk 1 models.
Jaguar GR.Mk 3 - GR.Mk 1A and GR.Mk 1B models upgraded to Jaguar 96 avionics system.
Jaguar GR.Mk 3A - GR.Mk 3 model upgraded to Jaguar 97 avionics system.
Jaguar T.Mk 2 - RAF Twin-Seat Trainer based on Jaguar B.
Jaguar T.Mk 2A - T.Mk 2 trainer upgraded to GR.Mk 1A standard.
Jaguar T.Mk 2B - Upgraded T.Mk 2A models with TIALD capability.
Jaguar T.Mk 4 - T.Mk 2A trainer models upgraded to Jaguar 96 standard.
Jaguar M - Proposed Single-Seat Navy Strike Fighter; single prototype for evaluation; never produced.
Jaguar ACT - "Active Control Technology" Research Platform Conversion.
Jaguar "International" - Export Version of Jaguar B and Jaguar S models.
Jaguar ES - Exported Jaguar S model type for Ecuador.
Jaguar EB - Exported Jaguar B model type for Ecuador.
Jaguar OS - Exported Jaguar S model type for Oman.
Jaguar OB - Exported Jaguar B model type for Oman.
Jaguar IS - Export and locally-produced Jaguar all-weather ground attack and tactical strike platform for India (production by BAe and HAL).
Jaguar IT - Export and locally-produced Jaguar two-seat trainer model types for India (production by BAe and HAL).
Jaguar IM - International anti-shipping model for Indian Air Force.
Jaguar SN - Exported Jaguar S model type for Nigeria.
Jaguar BN - Exported Jaguar B model type for Nigeria.
Jaguar MAX - Proposed uprgaded/modernized Jaguar for the Indian Air Force; showcased at Aero India 2019; upgraded avionics, mission capabilities, full weapons support, digital assistance, variable mission pod fits, customizable cockpits, AESA radar fit.