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French F1 Mirage Aggressor Crashes in Arizona

Airborne Tactical Advantage Company Pilot Ejects Safety, Fighter Goes Down in Empty Desert

A French Mirage F1 crashed near Buckeye, Arizona while being flown under contract by Airborne Tactical Advantage Company (ATAC). The pilot ejected safely, with no serious injuries reported. The crash occurred in a desert field in the wide open land abutting a retirement community. 

Luckily for the unnamed F1 pilot, a land surveyor happened to be working in the vicinity who watched the plane go down. He said he saw a fireball and dust cloud from its touchdown point shortly before seeing the parachute from the ejector seat come down. He drove over to meet the pilot and assess the situation only to find him already talking on the phone with his managers at ATAC. Soon after, a police helicopter arrived on scene as the crash site ws secured. Flights have been diverted around the site, according to the FAA. So far, the circumstances that brought the plane down remain unknown, with no statement on the situation from ATAC or the FAA. Local media have been told that inquiries should be directed to Luke Air Force Base officials for specifics. 

The company operates near Luke AFB as a contractor for airborne fighter services, boasting over 90 aircraft of various nationalities for use as aggressor and training aircraft. The Mirage makes up a significant portion of their fleet, along with their Hawker Hunters, F-21 KFIR, and L-39 Albatros. Their range of missions for-hire include air to air aggressor training, integrated fleet training, target tow, and air to ground missions to practice joint air attack and observation for combat controllers on the ground. ATAC has its roots in the military contractor groundswell that took off during the height of the Afghanistan and Iraq interventions, as many aircraft were pulled away from the domestic training scene and reassigned overseas. The ability to offer military branches a cheap, turnkey solution for mundane training requirements that saves hours on their nicer, modern airframes while offloading the upkeep of a fleet that would see infrequent use in one location. ATAC serves across the U.S., even offering the sole target tow capability for Navy forces in Japan and Hawaii. 



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