This was England’s flying Jaguar

When you hear the word Jaguar in conjunction with England, your first reaction might be to think about the brand of luxury cars. Can’t blame you, they do look very nice. However, there is a Jaguar that took to the skies, and the British designed and built it (with a little help from the French).

To understand how this flying Jaguar came about, we need to go back to the time when the Beatles were spearheading the British invasion. According to militaryfactory.com, the British and French both needed new planes. The British were trying to replace the Folland Gnat, while the French needed to replace T-33 and Magister training jets, as well as the Dassault Mystere fighters.

This SEPECAT Jaguar GR.3 with No. 41 Squadron, of the Royal Air Force shows off the Jaguar’s signature over-wing pylons for Sidewinder missiles. (DOD photo)

The two countries decided to team up, and in 1966 formed the Société Européenne de Production de l’avion Ecole de Combat et d’Appui Tactique, or SEPECAT. The first prototypes took to the air three years later, and in 1972, the Jaguar entered French service as a strike aircraft and trainer, while the British GR.1 version entered service in 1974.

The Jaguar specialized in low-level operations, presaging those of the multi-national Tornado in the 1980s and 1990s. It was also fast, capable of a top speed of 1,056 miles per hour. It could carry up to 10,000 pounds of bombs, and British Jaguars could carry the AIM-9 Sidewinder missile on unique over-wing rails. Ecuador, Nigeria, and Oman all bought export versions of the Jaguar, but one export customer really outdid the original.

Indian Air Force Jaguars join Indian Navy Sea Harriers, a F/A-18E Super Hornet, and a F/A-18F Super Hornet during Operation Malabar in 2007. India’s Jaguars are the only ones still in service, and have been upgraded into very deadly strike assets. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jarod Hodge)

The Indian Air Force bought the Jaguar to supplement its MiG-27 Flogger ground attack planes. Just as India did with the Flogger, the Jaguar, which India calls Shamsher, was improved beyond the original specs. According to bharat-rakshak.com, when India was offered a degraded internal navigation system, they came up with one superior to the original model. India’s Jaguars also feature more powerful engines and are capable of firing the Sea Eagle anti-ship missile.

Fittingly, while all other users of this aircraft have retired this plane, Globalsecurity.org reports that India’s Jaguars are expected to remain in service for another 20 years with continued upgrades. You can see a video about this plane below.

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