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Central, Eastern, & Southern Africa Database

African Mirages
By ACIG Team
Sep 2, 2003, 17:42

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Congo/Zaire


The Force Aérienne Zairoise ordered a total of 14 Mirage 5Ms and three Mirage 5DMs in late 1973. Deliveries began in 1975, when the aircraft entered service with the 211 Escuadrille, based at Kamina AB, which is a part of the 21 Wing de Chasse et d'Assaut, administered by the 2 Groupement Aérienne Tactique.

The Zairean Mirage-crews were trained with the ECT 2/2, at Dijon, but completed in Zaire, and the type became the mainstay of the FAZ in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Nevertheless, the FAZ-crews soon proved insufficient and a number of Egyptian pilots was recruited to fly them, while French technicians were time and again called up to maintain aircraft as these were needed in fighting against different - but almost permanent - uprisings against the regime of the dictator Mobutu Sesse Sekko. For example, it is known that the FAZ Mirages were alerted in May 1978, during the fighting against the Front de Liberation Nationale Congolais (FLNC), which not only destroyed several FAZ aircraft (including a number of Aermacchi MB.326s), but also took over 2000 Europeans as hostages.

Interestingly, the appearance of the first five Mirages in Kamina, in 1975, caused rumours about Israel deploying such fighters to that country at the time the civil war in Angola was about to erupt. Any such rumours proved wrong, however, and no FAZ - or any other - Mirages were used against the Marxists or Cubans in Angola at the time.

In 1983 four FAZ Mirages were deployed to N'Djamena IAP, in Chad, to support the French and Chadian forces against Libyans and Libyan-supporters during the Operation "Manta". While operating from that airfield one aircraft overshoot on landing and crashed: the airframe was stripped of spares and left to root in place, while the other three were returned to Zaire in 1984.

The condition of the FAZ Mirages subsequently detoriated: lack of spares and resources for maintaining them resulted in poor serviceability and heavy operational attrition. By 1988 only seven Mirage 5Ms and a single 5DM remained intact. Ten years later, when the civil war in Zaire reached its peak, none were operational any more, even if at least two 5Ms and a single 5Ds should have remained intact - and in "storage". The condition of any surviving airframes remains unclear.

(Photo: AMD/BA)


(Photo: AMD/BA)


(Photo: AMD/BA)


(Photo: AMD/BA)


(Photo: Paul A. Jackson)


The Mirage 5Ms delivered to the 211° Escuadrille were serialled M401 thru M414, while Mirage 5DMs were serialled M201 thru M203. Only the fates of M402 (lost in Chad) and M413 (seen in 1988) are known to any detail.




Gabon


The Force Aérienne Gabonaise purchased a total of three Mirage 5Gs and two Mirage 5DG trainers in 1975. The contract originally included two Mirage 5RG reconnaissance aircraft, but these were subsequently cancelled.

Deliveries were completed in 1978, but no aircraft was delivered before 1980, when the training of the crews was completed.

Only one year after they were finally delivered to Liberville, two Mirages were lost in a collision, while the others started suffering to hot and rainy climate. Consequently, in 1982 a follow-up order for four Mirage 5G-IIs and two Mirage 5DG-IIs was issued. These aircraft were all delivered by 1984, by when also the survivors of the original batch were refurbished in France.

As of the early 1990s three Mirage 5Gs and three two-seaters should have still been in service with the Escadron de Chasse 1-02 "Leyou", but their current status remains unclear.

(Photo: AMD/BA)


(Photo: AMD/BA)


(Photo: ACIG Archives)


Gabon originally ordered two mirage 5DG trainers, both of which were delivered only in 1980. In 1982 a follow-up order for two additional Mirage 5DG-IIs was issued, both of which arrived by 1984. Only two two-seaters survived the service with FAGA by the late 1980s, however, and their current status remains unknown. (ACIG archives)


Serials of the original three Gabonese Mirage 5Gs were 401 thru 403, Mirage 5DGs were 201 and 202. The two Mirage 5RGs were assigned serials 301 and 302, but never delivered. The Mirage 5DG-IIs were serialled 501 thru 504, while the two additional 5DGs became 203 and 204.




South Africa


The South African Air Force received 16 Mirage IIICZ interceptors between December 1962 and March 1964, followed by three Mirage IIIBZ two-seaters (delivered between December 1962 and December 1964) and four Mirage IIIRZ reconnaissance fighters(delivered between November 1966 and February 1967). These initial batches were not completely built when a second order was issued, for a total of 17 Mirage IIIEZs (delivered between February 1965 and March 1972), three additional Mirage IIIDZ trainers (delivered between July and September 1969), eleven Mirage IIID2Z two-seaters and four additional Mirage IIIR2Z reconnaissance fighters, the last 15 of which were equipped with Atar 9K50 engines.

The original IIICZ interceptors entered service with the No.2 Squadron "Flying Cheetahs" in 1962, while the multi-role Mirage IIIEZs served mainly with the No. 3 Squadron, reactivated in August 1966. Some of the IIICZs and IIIEZs, as well as all IIIDZ and IIID2Zs were operated by the No.85 Flying School, which also operated a number IIIRZs and IIIR2Zs - the rest of which was otherwise assigned to No.2 Squadron.

The No.2 Squadron operated Mirage IIICZs and Mirage IIIEZs until 1990, when survivors were replaced by Cheetah E single- and Cheetah D two-seaters.

The No.3 Squadron operated Mirage IIIEZs until April 1975, when it started receiving Mirage F.1CZ interceptors, passing its delta-winged fighters to No.85 Air Combat School.

The No.85 Air Combat School was established in August 1972 and flew Impalas as well as Mirage IIIEZs and Mirage IIID2Zs. By the mid-1980s all of its delta-winged fighters should have been in storage and the unit was flying only Impalas, expecting to receive Cheetahs in the late 1980s. Instead, the unit was re-named No.85 Combat Flying School and it continued flying Impalas until recently.

(Photo: Tom Cooper collection)


(Photo: Tom Cooper collection)


Another units flying delta-winged Mirages with SAAF were the No.5 Squadron and No.89 Combat Flying School, albeit for a very short period of time. The No.5 Squadron originally flew Impala Mk.II strikers since 1981, but was in 1988 re-equipped with Cheetah D and Cheetah E fighters. Barely four years later, in 1992, it was disbanded and surviving Cheetahs were passed to No.2 Squadron. The No.89 Combat Flying School was established in 1986, flying Cheetah Ds, and - later - also few Cheetah Es. The unit was disbanded already in 1992, and passed its aircraft to No.2 Squadron.

(Photo: SAAF)














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