Textron is now the largest Mirage F1 operator in the world
As noted by Flight Global, Textron subsidiary Airborne Tactical Advantage Company just picked up 63 former French Air Force (Armée de l’Air) Mirage F1B, F1CT, and F1CR for dissimilar air combat training and aggressor squadron purposes for the U.S. Air Force. The deal included 150 engines and a host of other gear the French weren’t using anymore.
“Textron is planning to retrofit the F1s with modern avionics systems such as digital radio frequency memory jamming capabilities and upgraded radars,” ATAC chief executive Jeffrey Parker says. “The requirements we’re seeing the air force describe clearly include a modern radar such as AESA or a highly capable mechanically scanned array radar.”
A tip-top dual purpose strike fighter when introduced in 1973, over 720 F1s were fielded with the French using the lion share (246) and the Ecuadorian, Greek, Iraqi (the Exocet attack on the USS Stark), Libyan, Moroccan, South African, and Spanish getting smaller quantities, though almost all have retired them.
The French disbanded the last squadron flying the F1 in 2014 and today only Gabon flies a few surplus Armée de l’Air jets, and the Libyans have a handful the French are upgrading while the Iranians are thought to have about a dozen operational F1BQs and F1EQs that escaped Desert Storm by skipping over the border in 1991.