Introduction by Doug Switzer, Moto/ology Publisher.
Story & photos from “Ahmed”, Moto/ology Contributor.
Long ago in 1975, back before Saddam Hussein became president and the Shah was still in power in Iran, the Iran-Iraq conflict of the early to mid-seventies was temporarily ended by the Algiers Agreement. During this lull in hostilities, the Iraqi military sent a small delegation to evaluate several aircraft for the Iraqi air force. This was before the “weapons of mass destruction” fiasco and before things went sideways for the Shah of Iran.
Tensions between the two countries were never really relaxed and there was a sentiment in Iraq that a diligent “on guard” approach would always be needed to discourage any bullying from the Iranians.
Under the leadership of Saddam Hussein’s predecessor, President Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr, a decision to re-equip the Iraqi air force with modern aircraft was made. After being weakened by the border conflicts of previous years, it was realized that newer, more versatile aircraft would be needed to form a credible deterrent.
With this in mind the Iraqis sent some pilots and military representatives to Europe to evaluate several aircraft that were being offered.
Among the aircraft being considered were the then-new SEPECAT Jaguar multi-role fighter and the French Dassault Mirage F1.
“Ahmed”, our contact for this piece supplied the photos and story. His father, a former Iraqi air force test pilot with the delegation (who wishes to remain anonymous) takes up the story:
The Mirage F1 was a single-engine air superiority multi-role fighter of the time, designed and developed by the famous French manufacturer Dassault. It was very agile and could reach Mach 2 and had a payload of more than 4 tons of various kinds of ammunition, rockets, bombs including the latest laser-guided bombs of the period. It could carry the AS-30 (air-to-surface laser-guided missile), the Matra 550 short-range air-to-air missile, the Matra 530 medium-range air-to-air missile, and the most effective weapon used during the first Gulf War in the 80s, the AM-39 Exocet. This was an anti-shipping air-to-surface radar-guided missile used to attack surface vessels such as warships and tankers.
The Iraqi Air Force ordered more than 60 of them during the first gulf war and this aircraft played a major role in the Tanker War operations from 1984-1988. It could reach out as far as Larak Island which was a major oil exporting point on the Gulf that’s more than 1000km from the Iraqi borders. The aircraft had to do mid-air refueling 3 times to complete those attack missions.
The SEPECAT Jaguar was a twin-engine supersonic ground attack fighter. It was a joint venture between Britain and France. A new company called SEPECAT (Société Européenne de Production de l’avion Ecole de Combat et d’Appui Tactique) was set up to manufacture the aircraft and was a partnership between the British Aerospace Corporation and France’s Bréguet Aviation.
When you flew the Jaguar, you could feel it’s very stable at low altitudes so you could easily penetrate enemy defenses at those low altitudes without being detected by their radars. It can carry about 10,000 lbs. of ammunition, rockets, missiles and bombs, with two built-in 30mm DEFA guns.
After testing both aircraft and making it’s decision, the Iraqi Airforce only selected the Mirage at the time and not the Jaguar. During the trials in Europe, the USSR offered the Sukhoi Su22 to Iraq at almost half the cost of the Jaguars, so that aircraft was eliminated from the competition.
Below are some of the specifications and characteristics I found on the internet for the two aircraft.
Length: 16.83 m (55 ft 2½ in)
Wingspan: 8.68 m (28 ft 6 in)
Height: 4.89 m (16 ft 0½ in)
Wing area: 24.18 m² (260.27 ft²)
Aspect ratio: 3.12:1
Empty weight: 7,000 kg (15,432 lb.)
Loaded weight: 10,954 kg (24,149 lb.)
Max. takeoff weight: 15,700 kg (34,612 lb.)
Powerplant: 2 × Rolls-Royce/Turbomeca Adour Mk 102 turbofans
Dry thrust: 22.75 kN (5,115 lb.) each
Thrust with afterburner: 32.5 kN (7,305 lb.) each
Maximum speed: Mach 1.6 (1,699 km/h, 917 knots, 1,056 mph) at 11,000 m (36,000 ft)
Combat radius: 908 km (490 nmi, 564 mi) (lo-lo-lo profile, with external fuel)
Ferry range: 3,524 km (1,902 nmi, 2,190 mi)
Service ceiling: 14,000 m  (45,900 ft)
Climb to 9,145 m (30,000 ft): 1 min 30 sec 
Guns: 2× 30 mm (1.18 in) DEFA cannons, 150 rounds per gun
Hardpoints: 5 total: 4× under-wing and 1× center-line pylon stations with a capacity of 10,000 lb. (4,500 kg) and provisions to carry various combinations of: 8× Matra rocket pods with 18× SNEB 68 mm rockets each, or
Missiles: AS.37 Martel anti-radar missiles or
AS-30L laser guided air-to-ground missiles or
2× R550 Magic air-to-air missiles on underwing pylons along with various unguided or laser-guided bombs.
Mirage F1 General Characteristics:
Length: 15.30 m (50 ft 2½ in)
Wingspan: 8.40 m (27 ft 6¾ in)
Height: 4.50 m (14 ft 9 in)
Wing area: 25.00 m² (269.1 ft²)
Empty weight: 7,400 kg (16,314 lb.)
Loaded weight: 10,900 kg (24,030 lb.) (clean take-off weight)
Max takeoff weight: 16,200 kg (35,715 lb.)
Powerplant: 1× SNECMA Atar 9K-50 afterburning turbojet
Dry thrust: 49.03 kN (11,023 lbf)
Thrust with afterburner: 70.6 kN (15,873 lbf)
Maximum speed: Mach 2.2 (2,338 km/h, 1,262 knots, 1,453 mph) at 11,000 m (36,090 ft)
Combat radius: 425 km (230 nm, 265 mi) (hi-lo-hi profile) at Mach 0.75/0.88 with 14 × 250 kg of bombs
Ferry range: 2,150 km (1,160 nm, 1,335 mi)
Endurance: 2 hr 15 min (combat air patrol, with 2 × Super 530 missiles and centreline drop tank)
Service ceiling: 20,000 m (65,600 ft)
Rate of climb: 242 m/s (47,815 ft/min) at high altitude
Guns: 2× 30 mm (1.18 in) DEFA 553 cannons with 150 rounds per gun
Hard points: 1 centreline pylon, four underwing and two wingtip pylons with a capacity of 6,300 kg (13,900 lb.) (practical maximum load 4,000 kg (8,800 lb.) and provisions to carry combinations of:
Rockets: 8× Matra rocket pods with 18× SNEB 68 mm rockets each