Thursday 20th December was a historic day for aviation enthusiasts as XX833, which for the past six months was the only flying UK military registered Jaguar left in service, took its last flight, marking the end of an era for Jaguar flying in UK – the last of the RAF’s Jaguars were themselves all retired this Summer. The QinetiQ owned Jaguar T Mk 2A, (XX833), which is operated in conjunction with the MOD as part of the Aircraft Test and Evaluation Centre (ATEC)* operation, was undertaking trials flights after which the airframe went out of hours. It was piloted by Sqn Ldr Andy Blythe, and accompanied by Wg Cdr Paul Shakespeare, both from the Fast Jet Test Squadron (FJTS), based at MOD Boscombe Down.
At around 11:30 the aircraft took off from its home base for a medium level flight, routed via RAF Coltishall, RAF Coningsby and BAE Systems Warton locations each with a long Jaguar heritage, (doing a slow and fast fly past at each) plus it overflew RAF Marham where a number of the engineers that worked on the Jaguar are now based, before returning to MOD Boscombe Down. Then at around 15:00, XX833 took to the air for the final time with a low level flight around Wales prior to an overflight of St Athan, eventually returning to MOD Boscombe Down for a final flypast before landing at around 15:45. The Jaguar was also accompanied by one of QinetiQ’s Alpha Jets on these flights to obtain air-to-air photographs.
Jaguar T Mk 2A, XX833, was manufactured by BAe at Warton as a two-seat operational advanced trainer and delivered to the MOD in February 1975. It was transferred to RAE Farnborough in February 1989, transferring to MOD Boscombe Down in April 1994 and finally became a QinetiQ asset in July 2001.
On retirement, XX833 will have flown around 4700 sorties, clocked up over 5,335 flying hours with more than 7690 landings. In the 12 years of service at MOD Boscombe Down, the aircraft has flown 1070 hours, suffered five bird-strikes, one lightning strike, consumed nine engines (with an average life of 122.33 hours each), and carried out over 864 sorties.
XX833 was powered by two Rolls-Royce Turbomeca Adour Mk 104 engines with afterburning, producing a max speed (at straight and level) of Mach 1.1 (729kt, 1,350km/h) and a service ceiling height of 14,023m (46,000ft). Its internal fuel capacity of 4,200 litres (924 Imp gallons) plus the fitment of additional external fuel tanks gave an approximate operational radius of 1408km (760nmiles).
Since manufacture it had a comprehensive instrumentation, recording and telemetry system fitted; this required the removal of the Aden Gun facility and modification of the ammunition tanks to accommodate its experimental fits. The aircraft was used as a development test vehicle for the Jaguar 96/97 updates and had a number of systems broadly comparable with those fitted to T Mk 4 aircraft.
A Head Tracker System (HTS) was provided to give steering and target information to the Head Tracker System and NAVWASS (Navigation and Weapon Aiming Sub-System). The HTS was used in conjunction with HMD (Helmet Mounted Display), Display NVG (Night Vision Goggles), or Integrated Panoramic NVG (IPNVG) to provide a Helmet Mounted Sight (HMS) facility.
* Wingspan 8.69m (28ft 6in)
* Length overall 17.53m (57ft 6in)
* Height overall 4.89m (16ft 0in)
Weight empty 7,000kg (15,432lb)
Max T/O weight 15,700kg (34,612lb)
*ATEC (Aircraft Test and Evaluation Centre) is the aircraft flight test centre, formed by the public-private partnering arrangement between MOD’s Joint Test & Evaluation Group and QinetiQ’ System Evaluation Services.
Pictures provided and copyrighted by QinetiQ
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