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Jaguar - Design

The Jaguar has a long sleek fuselage with a large swept tail fin and rudder. The fuselage features a long, pointed, chiseled nose, and the body widens at the air intakes rectangular to the exhausts. Relatively short-span swept wings are shoulder-mounted on the fuselage. The internal jet engines, mounted to the rear of the cockpit, have rectangular air intakes either side of the fuselage behind the cockpit, with their top surfaces forming an extension of the wing. The engine exhausts show prominently under the forward portion of the tail. The rear jetpipes are located forward and below the tailplane which has marked anhedral. The raised bubble canopy is set above the sharply-pointed nose. The twin mainwheels of the undercarriage retract into the fuselage.

A variety of weapons including cluster, freefall, retard and laser guided bombs, as well as rockets can be carried on the four wing and one fuselage stations. Two 30mm cannon are mounted internally. To mark targets for laser-guided weapons, the aircraft carries the thermal imaging and laser designation (TIALD) pod. For self-defence, overwing Sidewinder infra-red missiles are carried and the aircraft is fitted with a comprehensive suite of electronic countermeasures. Perhaps the Jaguar's most impressive feature is its navigation and attack system. With mission data fed into the computer, all the necessary information for a pinpoint attack is relayed to the head-up display. From the display, the pilot knows exactly where the target is located and precisely when to release his weapons for maximum effect.

The FAF requirements drawn up for both the Mirage FIC and the Jaguar were originally generated with an eye to the demands of overseas employment. Initially, however, the emphasis was on the Jaguar, because it was not thought that the probable overseas threat necessitated deployment of first-line air defense interceptors. Until the latter half of the decade, planners generally assumed that nothing other than ground-based air defenses were likely to be encountered in overseas contingencies. Given Giscard's new priorities and the perceived need to enhance the aerial fire-projection capabilities of the Exterior Intervention Forces, the new Jaguar early on became a prime candidate for beefing up the ground-attack capabilities of the second echelon FAF forces based in Europe.

The Jaguar, particularly the single seat "A" and the two-seat "E" versions that entered FAF service, exhibitod numerous special attributes and features that were especially suited for overseas operations. The FAF insisted on an aircraft that was small, light, simple, rugged, and reliable, for three reasons: (1) to hold down R&D, acquisition, and life-cycle costs; (2) to facilitate rapid dispersal from Main Operating Bases (MOBS) to less well equipped and supported Dispersed Operating Bases (DOBS) in France during a European crisis; and (3) to reduce deployment and support problems for overseas operations conducted out of austere or primitive facilities. For these reasons, the Jaguar airframe and its Ardour engine were of simple design and manufactured from conventional materials. Rapid turnaround and ease of support with an absolute minimum of special handling and support equipment were critical FAF requirements. Industry also had to provide the Jaguar with a capability to operate from short, semi-prepared, rough, or grass surfaces.

Particularly regarding avionics, the differences between the FAF Jaguar A and E versions and the Royal Air Force (RAF) S single seat and B two-seat versions are striking. The RAF equipped both of it, versions with a complex sophisticated inertial navigation system, projected moving map display, head-up display, and laser range-finder. The FAF Jaguar A is equipped with a much simpler, more reliable, off-the-shelf navigation-attack system based on a twin gyro platform and Doppler radar originally developed for and used in the Mirage IVA strategic bomber. Laser range-finders were retrofitted on only about one-half of the FAF's Jaguars (those used for conventional attack). Further, the FAF E two-seater has no automatic navigation-attack systein whatsoever; yet unlike the British two-seat B, the FAF E does boast in-flight refueling capability and has a better range-load carrying capability. In short, the FAF versions are much less suited than those fielded by the RAF for the high-threat, poor weather conditions characteristic of Western Europe. However, they are easier to deploy and support for overseas operations: they trade off navigation-attack equipment unnecessary in the clear weather conditions of equatorial Africa and the Middle East in favor of greater range-payload capability.

The FATac squadrons selected for modernization with the Jaguar, and the order in which they received the aircraft, reflected first and foremost the traditional Gaullist defense priority of nuclear deterrnce but also demonstrated the strong influence of Giscard's new emphasis on overseas operations. As squadrons began phasing out their Mystere IVs and F-100 Super Sabers in favor of the JIaguar, it became clear that tactical nuclear strike and strike support squadrons initially were awarded almost exclusive priority.

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Page last modified: 16-05-2013 18:41:02 ZULU