Draken Mirage F1 lost in Nellis crash in Nevada, US
An ex-Spanish Air Force Mirage F1M flown by Draken has crashed after takeoff from Nellis Air Force Base in southern Nevada in the US, killing the pilot. According to a statement released by the Air Force Base, “A contracted-aircraft that took off from Nellis Air Force Base crashed at approximately 14h30 on 24 May 2021 outside the southern edge of the base. The aircraft was owned, operated and piloted by Draken US, a Florida-based company contracted to provide adversary air support to Nellis Air Force Base.” The pilot was identified as Las Vegas resident Nicholas Hunter Hamilton, age 43.
A witness said the aircraft was flying very low and its engine sounded like it was malfunctioning. The aircraft went down in a residential neighbourhood, billowing dark smoke, about three miles from Nellis and 12 miles north of the Las Vegas Strip.
The Mirage F1M was registered as N567EM (ex EdA C.14-56). Draken began flying its ex-Spanish F1Ms out of Nellis last year as part of ‘red air’ adversary support to the US Air Force.
This is the second incident with a Mirage F1. On 25 February 2021, a Mirage F1B, registration N601AX, operated by Airborne Tactical Advantage Company (ATAC) slid off the runway at Tyndall Air Force Base. ATAC bought 63 ex-French Mirage F1s for red air training.
Draken is a private contract threat simulation and tactical training support company headquartered in Lakeland, Florida at the Lakeland Linder International Airport. The company also maintains a facility at Nellis AFB, where they conduct contract services for the US Air Force, including the 57th Adversary Tactics Group also based at Nellis.
Paramount Aerospace Systems helped Draken get its Mirage F1 fleet airworthy, with its first refurbished F1 taking to the air in November 2019. The first F1 adversary air flight took place in March 2020 when F1s challenged US Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles.
As of 2020, Draken is reported to be operating (at least) 22 French-built Mirage F1s, including 21 single-engine, single-seat F1M aircraft and a single Mirage F1BM two-seat variant. The aircraft were purchased mostly from the Spanish Air Force. It has also been recently reported that Draken purchased an additional “25 Jordanian Mirage F1s, including two ex-Qatari two-seaters, one of which had previously flown with the EdA as CE.14C-85” according to an April 14, 2021 story published on AirInternational.com. The report went on to say that, “A large stock of spare parts and engines was also acquired”.
The Dassault Mirage F1 first flew 54 years ago in December of 1966. The aircraft was a successor to the popular delta-wing Mirage multi-role combat aircraft. The F1 has flown in service with at least sixteen countries in both Air Forces and private threat simulation companies. It has seen extensive operational combat service and is regarded as a highly successful combat aircraft.
Draken has been selected by the US Air Force to support aircrew training at three locations across the USA. Draken has also acquired 12 ex-South African Air Force Cheetah fighters for ‘red air’ training.
Draken aircraft currently are assigned to provide Red Air support for Air Mobility Command’s Mobility Guardian 2021 exercise in Michigan.
Source: Defence Web, The Aviationist