Cats by Michael Rondot
- No matter what the type of aircraft, the world record for
low-flying can only ever be equalled; it cannot be beaten
without hitting the ground. But getting close to it became
an everyday routine for RAF Jaguar pilots on operational service
in The Gulf after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.
The barren featureless wastes of the desert offer few opportunities
for a low-flying aircraft from enemy defenses by terrain screening
or ducking below radar cover. The only effective counter over
a flat desert is to fly so low that any missile fired at the
aircraft hopefully will proximity-fuse on the ground before
it reaches its target.
Faced with an unprecedented threat from surface-to-air missile
systems and fighter aircraft, the Jaguar pilots who deployed
to Thumrait, Oman, as the spearhead of Operation Granby in
August 1990 trained as they expected to fight, - at ultra
weeks, most were comfortable at a radar altimeter cruise height
of 35 feet at 480 knots, maybe climbing to 60 feet over undulating
sand dunes or during high-G turns. Some were content to fly
lower, cruising at 20-30 feet, and one or two individuals
who should remain nameless were rarely seen above 20 feet.
The phrase 'Getting down' had taken on a new meaning.
October 1990 the Jaguars moved to Al-Muharraq, Bahrain, and
continued to train at ultra low-level, but as the outbreak
of hostilities drew close and it became apparent that US fighters
were more than capable of dealing with any Iraqi air threat,
they switched to medium-level tactics, preferring to take
their chances with the AAA and SAM threat rather than low-flying
through a hail of small-arms and short-range defensive fire
around their targets in Kuwait and Iraq.
Blessed with the sustained luck and inspired leadership of
Wg Cdr Bill Pixton DFC AFC, the gamble paid off. 3 were hit
by Iraqi AAA fire during the 6-week war, but none were lost.
September 1991, Jaguars based at Incirlik, Turkey, have been
flying low-level missions in Iraq as part of OperationWarden
to protect Kurds against further Iraqi attack. Some of the
pilots were on the initial Operation Granby deployment, and
later flew war missions during Operation Desert Storm. Michael
Rondot flew with them, and his painting captures the essence
of speed and excitement as a pair of bomb-laden Jaguars break
formation and head for the desert floor during a typical low-level
print in this single limited edition is countersigned by 25
pilots from the RAF Coltishall Jaguar wing involved with these
Operations from Number 6, 41(F) and 54(F) Squadrons, including
all 3 Squadron Commanders. The edition is artist-signed, dated
and numbered, stamped with the Collectair seal and issued
with a certificate of authentication giving details of the
signatories. Remarqued copies with an original pencil drawing
on the print border and are especially prized by collectors
for their extreme rarity, are available at extra cost to further
enhance the value of this strictly limited edition
by 25 pilots who flew on
Operation 'Desert Storm' and
These include ALL 3 Squadron Commanders from
6, 41(F) and 54(F) Sqns'
Cats by Michael Rondot
size: 28 x 20ins approx
- see below