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BAC-Breguet Taranis IIA - EB 2/91 Bretagne, Armée de l'Air, 1971

 

In late 1963 the Hawker P.1154 programme still continued even after the Royal Navy decided to cancel it's lukewarm interest and order the McDonnell F-4 Phantom II and the P.1154 reverted back to a simpler single-seat fighter with secondary intercept capability for the RAF as a replacement for the Hawker Hunter. However the incoming Labour government, led by Harold Wilson, cancelled the P.1154 on the grounds of cost in February 1965 whilst the TSR.2 survived but would surely face the axe within weeks.

 

With the RAF still seething about Mountbatten's championing of the McDonnell F-4 Phantom II they purposefully rejected the Phantom and their interest soon turned to the Dassault Mirage IIIE, a multi-role version of the Mirage IIIC, which had recently entered squadron service with the Armée de l'Air. With discussions already having taken place in 1964 between France and Great Britain on collaborative military aviation programs for a light ground-attack/trainer (Jaguar) and a swing-wing multirole fighter project (AFVG) the respective governments announced the immediate development and production of the Mirage IIIE for the RAF as a Hunter replacement and, unexpectedly, continued development of the TSR.2 for both services as a strike/attack aircraft. It would later be revealed that Armée de l'Air officials had serious concerns about the low-level penetrability of the delta-winged Mirage IVA and felt that the TSR.2 better matched their requirements.

 

Whilst Dassault Aviation would wholely produce the RAF's Mirage IIIE's the TSR.2 would be produced by BAC at Weybridge and also by Bregeut Aviation at Toulouse with all export versions being built by the country responsible for securing the order. Development continued through the mid-1960's during which the aircraft was officially named Taranis after the Celtic god of thunder and in January 1967 initial orders were placed for 75 Taranis 'S' aircraft for the RAF and 75 Taranis 'A' aircraft for the Armée de l'Air with the Taranis S.1 entering service with the RAF in April 1969 and the Taranis IIA entering service with the Armée de l'Air in October 1970. 

 

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Edited by Spinners
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