Thursday 20th December was a historic day for aviation enthusiasts as XX833, which for the past six months was the only flying UK military registered Jaguar left in service, took its last flight, marking the end of an era for Jaguar flying in UK – the last of the RAF’s Jaguars were themselves all retired this Summer.
The QinetiQ owned Jaguar T Mk 2A, (XX833), which is operated in conjunction with the MOD as part of the Aircraft Test and Evaluation Centre (ATEC)* operation, was undertaking trials flights after which the airframe went out of hours. It was piloted by Sqn Ldr Andy Blythe, and accompanied by Wg Cdr Paul Shakespeare, both from the Fast Jet Test Squadron (FJTS), based at MOD Boscombe Down.
At around 11:30 the aircraft took off from its home base for a medium level flight, routed via RAF Coltishall, RAF Coningsby and BAE Systems Warton locations each with a long Jaguar heritage, (doing a slow and fast fly past at each) plus it overflew RAF Marham where a number of the engineers that worked on the Jaguar are now based, before returning to MOD Boscombe Down. Then at around 15:00, XX833 took to the air for the final time with a low level flight around Wales prior to an overflight of St Athan, eventually returning to MOD Boscombe Down for a final flypast before landing at around 15:45. The Jaguar was also accompanied by one of QinetiQ’s Alpha Jets on these flights to obtain air-to-air photographs.