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RAF Cosford Jaguar Taxi Day 2016

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The SPEPECAT Jaguar was initially designed in the 1960s as a training aircraft, but the requirements soon changed to include supersonic flight and the ability to deliver tactical nuclear strikes. The Anglo-French airplane entered RAF service in 1974 in time for the latter half of the cold war and saw active service during the Gulf War, where it was praised for its reliability as part of the coalition’s task force.

 
 

After over a quarter of a century on the front line, the Jaguar was retired from RAF service in 2007. Since then, 238 squadron of the No. 1 School of Technical Training at RAF Cosford have been using the aircraft in ground instructional roles to train RAF engineering apprentices. Sadly, today was to be the last operational day where the Jaguars twin Rolls Royce Adour engines would be fired up. The air base will now be switching over to more cost-effective synthetic training, using new High-Tec computer simulators instead of live aircraft.

The 150 Tickets for the event sold out very quickly, but those fortunate enough to obtain one (or with a big enough zoom lens and step ladder) were able to witness the final live runs of 4 of the squadrons Jaguars. After a short health & safety briefing, the crowd was escorted into the viewing area of the airfield, complete with complementary ear plugs. The access area was well-thought out and provided plenty of space to move around, placing photographers very close to the action.

 

Two aircraft were already on static display, but were quickly joined by the live Jaguars. Firstly, the famous ‘spotty Jag’ XX119, credited with the last RAF flight on July 2nd 2007 was taxied out closely followed by Gulf War veteran XX725 . The two airplanes performed figure of eight demonstrations and showed off their radars at close quarters before lining up alongside two other static Jaguars. The crowd were treated to an additional two other taxiing planes; T4 Jaguars, XX847 and XX835 performed a similar range of maneuvers, with the powerful, noisy blast of the Adour engines knocking down the barrier on almost every turn.

Once the taxiing was complete 6 Jaguars were lined up on static display and the ticket holders were given the opportunity to inspect the aircraft closely, talk to the operators and even climb into the cockpits. After a chance to photograph the line-up of 6 aircraft uninhibited by people,the 4 live Jaguars were taxied for one final time complete with water cannon salute courtesy of the on-site fire engine.

This was a well-thought out day by the RAF which provided enthusiasts with an excellent opportunity to celebrate the final live running of the SPEPECAT Jaguars. There were numerous photographic opportunities, enhanced by the good weather. Clearly more tickets could have been sold, but the exclusivity added to the intimacy of the event.

Whilst the aircraft will no longer be used for live-engine taxiing they will remain in the hangars at RAF Cosford for all other types of basic aircraft engineering training. They may still be seen on the airfield from time-to-time but the sound of the Rolls Royce Adour has been heard for the last time, this was the last roar of the Jaguar.
 

Review by Lee Chapman

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