Draken's first renovated Mirage F1 takes flight

Draken International's first ‘regenerated' Dassault Mirage F1 performed its maiden flight at Lakeland Linder International Airport, Florida, on November 12.

The US-based adversary air (ADAIR) training company procured 22 former Spanish Air Force Mirage F1s in 2018 and aims to begin using the supersonic, radar-equipped fighter operationally from 2020. The company has a mix of both single-seat F1Ms and twin-seat F1B aircraft, with the first flight being conducted by F1B registration N552EM.

Draken Mirage F1B [Paramount Group]
Draken International Mirage F1B, registration N552EM, taxis by following a successful return to flight. Paramount Group

On October 18, Draken International - along with three other ADAIR companies (Airborne Tactical Advantage Company (ATAC), Top Aces and Tactical Air Support Inc (TacAir))  - was awarded a $6.4bn contract to provide combat readiness training under the US Air Force's (USAF) Combat Air Forces (CAF) ADAIR programme. Each company must now bid to support the 12 sites that are earmarked for these services.

Paramount Aerospace Systems (PAS) - a subsidiary of Paramount Group - is providing the overhaul and ongoing engineering support for Draken's Mirage F1 fleet at its ADAIR's maintenance facility in Lakeland, Florida. The Mirage F1s are currently being reassembled, restored and gaining airworthiness certification at the facility. PAS has a history with the Mirage F1M, having led the modernisation effort on the type whilst it was still in Spanish Air Force service.

Draken Mirage F1B Flight [Paramount Group]
Mirage F1B N552EM during its post-renovation flight. Paramount Group

Steve Griessel, CEO of Paramount Group USA, said: “We are proud to support Draken’s Mirage F1 regeneration programme. Paramount has extensive capability on this aircraft with full airframe and engine overhaul capability, as well as the ability to upgrade and modernise avionics and mission systems. It is exciting to be working with Draken and this paves the way for a strong long-term relationship."

When operational, the Mirage F1Ms will join other aircraft in Draken International's inventory, including individual fleets of Denel Aviation Atlas Cheetah C/D (purchased directly from the South African Air Force in 2017), Aero Vodochody L-159E Honey Badger, Douglas A/TA-4K Skyhawks, Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21bis 'Fishbed' and Aero L-39 Albatros aircraft.

Draken Mirage F1B Landing [Paramount Group]
N552EM after a successful landing taxis back with its drag chute deployed. Paramount Group