It was the end of an era at RAF Cosford on the 31st August 2016 as for the final time the SEPECAT jaguar would stretch its legs and taxi under its own power in RAF service after 40 years. The SEPECAT Jaguar is an Anglo-French attack aircraft originally used by the Royal Air Force and the French Air Force in the close air support and nuclear strike role and is still in service today with the Indian Air Force.

Retired from active flight with the RAF  in May 2007 the Jaguar’s then moved to RAF Cosford, Shropshire where they have lived ever since under the care of 238 Squadron part of No1 School of technical training teaching the next generation of aircraft maintenance mechanics and weapons technicians aircraft handling training. No 1 School of Technical Training accounts for a significant number of the permanent staff at RAF Cosford and comprises of 400 service personal and civilian members dedicated to providing world class aeronautical engineering training to around 2000 national and international students per year.

The UK ordered about 200 of the aircraft consisting of a mix of single seat ground attack aircraft and twin seat trainers with delivery’s beginning at the start of 1973 and at its height the Jaguar equipped eight front line RAF squadrons in the UK and Germany.  The Jaguar served operationally in a number of Conflicts including the 1991 Gulf War, Iraq and the Balkans where it proved itself as a key asset to Royal Air Force in the ground attack role.

Powered by two Rolls Royce Adour Turbofan engines providing 8249lbs of thrust each with a max speed of Mach 1.4 and a service ceiling of 40,000ft the Jaguar was a fast nimble aircraft capable of carrying a payload of AIM-9L Sidewinders, Paveway II, Paveway III, General Purpose Bombs and CRV-7 as well as its 30mm Aden Cannon it was the perfect low level bomber of its time.

Crewed by Sgt Marr Swales, Sgt Gavin Sheffield, Cpl Jim Coupe and Mr Paul Bennett Senior Instructor the final four Jaguars taxied around the Shropshire airfield for the last time before being emotionally retired for a second time in Royal Air Force service under a traditional water cannon salute provided by the stations fire service. The Jaguar will remain at Cosford and will still be used in the training role however they will no longer be live taxi-able aircraft or used in the aircraft handling role.

With thanks to Royal Air Force Cosford Media Team, 238 Squadron and the whole of No1 School of Technical Training for making the day happen and so enjoyable for many enthusiasts who attended.

Article by Kurt Fairhurst assisted by Paul Atkin credit for factual information