Friday, 22 April 2011

Jaguar sur Al Jaber (1) - last edit December 2015

An extract from the film "Les ailes de la gloire" - ECPA-D 1998. A brief overview of the first French combat sortie of Desert Storm, the 1991 Gulf War, flown by twelve Jaguars of the 11th escadre de chasse EC 2/11 Vosges against the heavily defended Kuwaiti base of Al Jaber on 17 January 1991. Commentary from flight leader commandant Mansion. A single click to view here.

"..it's still night time. We are preparing our briefing at Al Asha. We are going over all the details so that we can be sure that everyone has understood what is required. We go over everything. And then we learn that the sortie is on, the first French mission of the war. I look at my comrades...twelve of us flying this first sortie. We climb up into our cockpits, I quickly close my canopy. I had been advised to shut the canopy quickly. As soon as you shut the canopy you are on your own and the mission is on and we are going to go. We have to succeed. We are flying Jaguars. Many think that the Jaguar is an old and somewhat slow aircraft, and yet that morning when I release the brakes, my aircraft literally bounds forward and leaps into the sky. We're off. I've had my head down in the cockpit but as I look up I'm in for a shock. Ahead of us, just darkness. I know why. Fires burning, columns of smoke from the flames obscuring the horizon. I know now that the mission is starting..There is an opening in among the columns of smoke and I pass through it, like going through a small door and behind the door there is the real war. But I'm lost, I'm scanning my instruments very carefully now. I'm looking for an enormous airbase - it should be there ..but it isn't. I've lead twelve guys here and we're going to get shot at ..and I can't see the target. Suddenly someone shouts "north! it's there, to the north !" I look in that direction. Yes, thats our target. I can see Hangar no. 4, our target. We drop our bombs ..bof, bof, bof, bof. What a relief! All four of them dropped correctly..on the base, on the target. The mission is a success..."








Récit de Mansion, leader lors de l'intervention... by armee-de-l_air







Of the twelve Jaguars airborne from Al Asha to carry out a low-level bombing raid against the base at Ahmed Al Jaber in Kuwait, no less than four sustained heavy damage. The first is hit by small arms fire and the ailerons are damaged. The second Jaguar was hit by a missile, damaging the starboard engine which was successfully shut down by the pilot who jettisoned his bombs and turned back (see photos below) The third Jaguar was hit by a Strela missile resulting in the starboard engine catching fire and exploding and showering the wing with debris. Once again the four 250 kg bombs carried by the Jaguar were jettisoned. Both these two machines managed to put down at the US base of Al Jubail some 300 km away. But worse was still to come for the pilot of the fourth Jaguar, capitaine Alain Mahagne....... 

Alain Mahagne's own account; 'Jaguar sur Al Jaber' continued on this blog here

Source: Pilotes dans la tourmente by Jean-Pierre Otelli . Editions Altipresse















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