THE AIRFORCE - AIRCRAFT - MIRAGE F1AZ
1000 lb Bomb, 400 kg Bomb, 68mm SNEB Rocket, AS.20 Missile, AS.30 Missile, CB-470 Cluster Bomb, DEFA 553 30mm Cannon, ELT-555 (ACS) Electonic Warfare Pod, Mk 81 250 lb Bomb, Mk 82 500lb Bomb, Mk20 Rockeye (Tiekie), R.550 Magic Missile, Type 155 Launcher, V3B Kukri, V3C Darter, Weapon pylons
15 incidents recorded
Single-seat strike and multi-role fighter. It is a simplified attack version with extra fuel in place of radar and some other all-weather avionics.
The South African Air Force recognized the advantages of a simplified version of the Mirafe F1CZ for day visual attack missions. The resulting Dassault-Breguet Mirage F1AZ is visually distinguished by having a slender conical nose, resulting from removal of the large Cyrano IVM radar. In its place is the ESD Aïda II ranging radar and a laser-ranger, with a large instrument boom housing the pitot/static heads attached on the underside of the nose. The main avionics racking is moved from behind the cockpit to the nose, making room for an extra fuselage tank. Other additions are a Doppler radar and a retractable refueling probe. South Africa received 32 aircraft for service with No. 1 Sqn.
The aircraft were withdrawn from service in 1997.
Ironically, it was the F1AZ's usefulness that indirectly resulted in its retirement. In ther late 1980's, the initial plan was for the F1AZ to be upgraded after the Cheetah program was finished because the SAAF couldn't take the risk taking it's fleet of F1AZ's out of the front line without a similarly cabable aircraft to take their place, which couldn't exist untill the Cheetah C. However, once the Cheetah upgrade was completed (mid-1990's), the budget had been slashed and there was no longer sufficient funding. Faced with mounting operational costs, a tiny budget adn what amounted to a new type in service, the SAAF did the logical thing and retired the F1AZ's to focus the remaining funding on the Cheetah C and D.