We’ve long admired a great many British aircraft, and disdained oh so many French aircraft. Which puts us in a bind, because we want to really like the Jaguar, but it’s half British, and half French.  By the 1960s, the costs of developing a tactical aircraft were so high that smaller nations struggling to maintain a realistic aviation industry decided to partner up with other nations in bilateral and joint projects. There’s a long, long, long list of projects that failed, for technical reasons, budgetary reasons, inability to decide on work share, and diverging tactical requirements. But a few programs have actually worked out pretty well. The Panavia Tornado comes to mind, as well as its successor the Typho0n. Among the earliest successful joint programs was a partnership between BAC and Breguet to form SEPECAT, a joint company that designed and built the Jaguar, a supersonic light strike/ground attack aircraft that served Britain and France from the early 1970s through well into the 21st Century.

The Jag is a single seat* twin engine supersonic low/medium altitude jet that was used primarily in three roles:

  1. Nuclear strike
  2. Close Air Support
  3. Tactical Reconnaissance

In spite of its sleek lines, what the Jag wasn’t was a fighter. While it could carry Sidewinder (or similar) short range air to air missiles, that was more a matter of self defense. It didn’t even have radar. Instead, it had a respectable (for its day) navigation/attack system to guide it to its target.

And to be honest, it really wasn’t supersonic, either. That is, with no external stores, and given time and altitude, sure, it could break the sound barrier. But down low, and carrying its normal war load, no way. But it was pretty fast down low, which was the whole point.

There are four wing stations for external store under the wings. There are also two wing stations over the  wing, rather unusually, where the Sidewinders were carried. There is also a centerline station. Typically, the Jag would carry two drop tanks under the wings, a chaff dispenser on one wing and a jammer pod on the other, and a couple of 1000lb bombs on the centerline.

In addition to service with the RAF and the French AF, the Jag has had respectable overseas sales, especially in India, but also in Oman, Ecuador, and Nigeria.

Grab a cup of coffee. This is a fairly interesting look at life in an RAF Jag squadron. At around the 15 minute mark, there’s some spectacular low level flying in what I suspect is Star Wars Canyon in Oman.
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yX3l6i6BKfM]

The French Navy also looked at a carrier capable version, but the word is that it was somewhat awful around the boat.
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U9TJuWLXIPc]

*There are also two-seat operational trainer variants that retain combat capability.

Mini-14 a la Francais

In the comments on our post of the French police shooting at the Kosher store, Chrispy mentioned in the comments that some French police forces are armed with the Ruger Mini-14. Indeed they are. And Ian at Forgotten Weapons, of course has the details.

When French national police and security forces decided to replace the MAT-49 submachine gun as a standard weapon, they decided to look for a light carbine. Something less obviously military than the FAMAS was desired, and the natural choice was the Ruger Mini-14, whose slightly civilian appearance is often considered to be one of its primary strengths. Ruger licensed the design to the French, who have assembled them in-country with a few changes from the normal production model we are used to seeing here in the US.

French police officer with a Mousqueton AMD (Mini-14)

One of our very first purchases was a Ruger Mini-14 5R Ranch Rifle. Basically it was a Mini-14 with the receiver pre-milled to accept scope rings, and with a very primitive flip up sight, instead of the more robust aperture sights seen here. It came standard with a 5 round magazine, but we also had four 30 round magazines, because we like shooting lots of bullets.

It was a nice rifle, quite handy and comfortable, and back then (1987) very reasonably priced. It wasn’t quite as accurate as our M16, but it was, in general, more accurate than we were.

The comments at Forgotten Weapons have an interesting discussion on how the Mini-14 used to be a weapon of choice for many police agencies, and how and why that seems to have changed.

Because Buddy is only half a word.

The French counter-terror police have a pretty good reputation. Based on this video, that may need a bit of rethinking.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9z7kKIqVs_k]

First, as the metal door rolls up, the first guy in the stack goes in, and maneuvers. So far, so good. Violence of action is the rule of thumb in these things.

The problem is, the rest of the stack leaves him hanging. As Andrew Exum says,


A couple other thoughts-

  • More flashbangs sooner. They could have had them going in well before the door was up.
  • Every copy of the video I’ve found pauses right as the terrorist starts to fall in the doorway. The CIGN keeps shooting the crap out of him, as you can tell from the audio. That’s not really a problem, per se, but CIGN is on BOTH sides of the doorway. You’re almost guaranteed some fraticide from the circular firing squad set up.
  • This particular video doesn’t show the crowd of hostages pouring forth, but the general rule of thumb in these situations is to have an operator take physical control of each single hostage, both to act as a shield, and to ensure they are a) an actual hostage, b) not armed, c) not harmed or otherwise injured, and d) not a suspect trying to escape in the confusion.
  • For all the noise and fury over how bad the M4 is in US service, look at what CIGN was carrying.


Update: the unpaused video is here, but WordPress stubbornly refuses to embed liveleak.

Charlie Hebdo Attacked By Muslim Terrorists

You’ve seen the news. And you’re already seeing the craven apologists for Islamic terrorism groveling and justifying and otherwise excusing barbarism. Indeed, somehow, the Obama administration, charged with upholding the First Amendment principles of freedom of speech, found time back in 2012 to weigh in on an obscure French satirical magazine, and surprising no one, came down on the side of the heckler’s veto:

WASHINGTON (CBSDC) — The White House criticized French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in 2012 for publishing cartoons mocking the Prophet Muhammad.
Then White House Press Secretary Jay Carney questioned the magazine’s judgment after publishing images of Muhammad naked.
“We are aware that a French magazine published cartoons featuring a figure resembling the Prophet Muhammad, and obviously we have questions about the judgment of publishing something like this,” Carney told reporters in September 2012.

I find myself sadly resigned to the fact that barbarous Muslim fanatics will from time to time go upon murderous rampages. It is simply what happens.

But when a society begins to question whether they should be importing a population known for such, the political class immediately chides them and scolds them for being racist, rather than realist. That is what outrages me.

Our pusillanimous White House cannot even trouble itself to use the word terrorism, instead relying on the non-judgmental term “violence.”

CDR Salamander just looked at the issue of immigrant Muslim populations skewing the politics of an open society Monday. There are literally neighborhoods where the parent society has effectively ceded sovereignty to them. So to in the suburbs of Paris, parts of England, and to some extent, here in Dearborn, Michigan.

We’ll be warned for weeks about a backlash against Muslims that never seems to actually occur.

Maybe it is time it does.

mohammed-cartoons charlie hebdo muhammed cartoons 2012

mohammed-cartoons charlie hebdo muhammed cartoons 2012

The F-8 Crusader in Aeronavale Service

The legendary F-8 Crusader served with the Aeronavale from 1964 (trails starting aboard Clemenceau in 1962) to 2000.

The Aeronavale used the F-8E(FN) initially. The FN had the fire control system modified to carry the Matra R.530 missile (in addition to the Sidewinder). In addition the wing incidence angle was increased from 3 to 5 degrees to accommodate operations from the decidedly smaller aircraft carriers.

Later in service 1979, the FN was upgraded to the standard F-8J with a modified afterburner and J model standard wing. The R.550 missile was also added. Later again in 1989 17 F-8E(FN) were modified to the F-8P (P for prolonge) with rewired electrical and hydraulic systems and the addition of a radar warning receiver.

Deliveries of the FN to the Aeronavale began in October 1964 til February 1965 to the Aeronavale’s first fighter squadron Flotille 12F and Flotille 14F.

The Crusader served in many French military operations in the Mid East and Africa. One of the more unusual incidents took place over Djibouti in 1977 (from Wikipedia):

On 7 May 1977, two Crusaders went separately on patrol against supposedly French Air Force (4/11 Jura squadron) F-100 Super Sabres stationed at Djibouti. The leader intercepted two fighters and engaged a dogfight (supposed to be a training exercise) but quickly called his wingman for help as he had actually engaged two Yemeni Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21s. The two French fighters switched their master armament to “on” but, ultimately, everyone returned to their bases. This was the only combat interception by French Crusaders.


Here are some early pictures of the F-8 in Aeronavale service:








The Aeronavale Crusader also took part in the NATO’S air war over Kosovo in 1999. Here are some pictures of the F-8 from that cruise:







In 2000, the F-8P was replaced with the Rafale M.

A long period of service for a great airplane.

Links of Interest

France’s rescue attempt in Somalia was pretty much a goat rope.  Rescue missions are risky, and have a high failure rate. Failing is one thing. Leaving a man behind? That’s a real black mark on the record.

And President Obama has notified Congress that US aircraft supported the operation. Eh, I’m not gonna get too excited about that. He complied with the War Powers Act mandate to notify Congress. And flying top cover over Somalia is fairly low risk. And believe it or not, France has been a fairly steadfast ally in  a lot of ways. So scratching their back from time to time won’t hurt much.


France is also busy fighting in Mali. France has a long, long history of intervention in brush wars in Africa. When the US intervenes somewhere, there are calls from every corner of the world and from half the US population about having the blessings of the UN. France doesn’t bother with any of that nonsense. If they feel fighting Islamist radicals in Africa is in their best interests, it’s go time.  I’m hearing some rumors of US logistical support for the operations, but nothing firm yet.


Steeljaw Scribe is getting the message China is sending. Are you?


Some days just suck harder than others.


Via NavyOne.


I think I’ve found my new favorite band.


D’oh. Video didn’t load first time around.

Dash and Elan

There was a time, before socialism became the culture of Great Britain, when troops loyal to the Crown were among the most intrepid in the world, and had a government worthy of their esprit.

The beginning of June 1942 was perhaps the nadir of the Allied effort against the Axis powers.* Virtually every Allied effort to stem the flood of the Axis tide had met with disaster.  Vast swaths of the Pacific lay under the heel of the militaristic Imperial Japanese Boot.  Tripolitanian North Africa was the scene of brutal battles between Britain, Italy and their German allies. Russia was being bled white by the enormous Wehrmacht assault in the East. And of course, virtually all of Western Europe was under the heel of the Nazi boot. Most famously, France, just two years before considered the greatest power on the continent, had suffered a humiliating  military and moral catastrophe in their defeat by the Blitzkrieg of the Germans.

America had entered the war some 7 months before, but for now, Great Britain,  alone among the Western powers, struggled to hold the line. Britain knew that eventually, to defeat the Nazi’s, it would take more than they alone could provide. More even than they and the Americans could muster. And for moral reasons, if no others, if France was ever to stand shoulder to shoulder with the other nations of the world, its citizens would have to fight alongside the Allies to reclaim their own soil.

So while the battle to reclaim France was still two years in the future, the fight to inspire even the smallest amount of national pride in the Frenchman in the street, to inspire hope that someday the French could indeed return to independence, was very much in the forefront of British thinking.  And with that goal in mind, the RAF ordered a daring daylight raid on Paris.  A massive fleet of Lancasters or Stirlings? Mosquitoes swirling? Nope…

Read the whole story.

*As of the  day of this raid, 12 June 1942, while the Battle of Midway had been fought and decisively won, the full scope of that victory was still generally unknown to the public.

Thanks to Craig for the head’s up on  this.

Well, dang, I guess I have to lay off bashing the French for a while…

I was making my usual rounds today and stopped by The Castle, where I found this wonderful tidbit. I’m sorry to say that the only real interaction I had with the French was when a pair of Foriegn Legion officers came with us to the field once as observers. They seemed to have something of an attitude, no so much against Americans, but rather against enlisted and noncommissioned personnel. The author of this piece seems to have his priorities straight.