Mirage III IAI Nesher/Dagger


In June 1978 a group of officers and NCOs of the VIII Brigada Aérea (home of the Mirage IIIEAs) with a high degree of confidentiality, left for Israel to contact the Air Force and the Israeli Defense Ministry in order to verify the status of the Neshers offered. This commission was headed by Commodoro Luis Barreira, plus Vicecomodoros Juan C. Luscher and Manuel Mir and and NCOs Carlos Ambros and Ferraras. Viccomodoro Mir also had the task of evaluating the operational capabilities of the aircraft, its particular conditions and limits of the flight envelope. In view of the positive analysis subsequently carried out by this committee and the similarity between the Nesher and the Mirage IIIEA, finally it was decided to purchase these jets.

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The Dagger purchase

It materialized on 10 Augus 1978 with the signing of the contract DAG/I for a total amount of US $ 109.192.000 and contemplated the incorporation of 24 single-seaters at a cost of U$ 3.958.000 and two twin-seaters at a cost of U$ 7.100.000 each.
These machines, renamed Dagger and designated by the FAA as “Mirage 5” would be subject to further inspection on the premises of Israel Aircraft Industries at Ben Gurion Airport (Tel Aviv), to where they were taken in flight from its home at Eiram air base in the Sinai peninsula.
The contract included the guidelines to develop an upgrade of these jets with modern avionics was established, although the priority of the FAA was to have the aircraft as soon as possible, requessting to that effect that IAI undertake a “P” inpsection (periodic) and updating some equipment to assure at least 200 flight hours by aicraft before the first necessary inspection to be held in Argentina.
Immediately the study began to select pilots that would fly the new aircraft. This task was carried out by Commodo Nelsis Rodoni, a IIIEA Mirage experienced pilot, who was head of the Department of Training in the Air Operations Command (COA). His task was extremely important because the selection of students and instructors should be very rigorous because it was required the pilots were operating with Dagger as soon as possible. In the case of students, the selection included officers with experience in high performance jets (F-86F Sabre and A-4B Skyhawk) and had reached Phase III (suitable for combat) in their respective weapons systems, counting with at least 250 hours in single-seater fighters. While for flying the M-III were required at least 500 hours, this time it was decided to reduce this requirement, in order to incorporate more pilots to the new weapons system. In the case of instructors, he searched among officers with proven qualification with the M-III.

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The formal birth of the then Dagger Escuadrón crystallized soon after the 28 August 1978, with sending the subpoenas to pilots assigned to the three main fighter units of (IV, V and VIII Brigadas Aéreas) and the Military Aviaction School to show up at the VIII Brigada Aérea premises at the Dr. Mariano Moreno airfield, near the town of José C. Paz, west of the city of Buenos Aires.
The Squadron, commanded by Mayor Mario E. Roman, Mirage III pioneer pilot in the FAA, would be subordinate to the Head of Operations Grupo VIII (this unit operating since 1972 the Mirage IIIEA/DA)s led by Comodoro Edgardo Cáceres, part of the VIII Brigada Aérea commanded by Comodoro Jorge A. Van Thienen. This denomination of units corresponding to the restructuring of the Air Force implemented years ago and did have a short application.

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Leading the technical committee in charge of receiving the Daggers was the then Chief of the Technical Group VIII Brigada Aérea, Comodoro Barreira who would be in charge with a group of NCOs (Federico Bohm, Lucio Beraldi, Jorge Corando, Enrique Hlaczik and Jesús Robles) were responsible of the official reception and inspection of the machines from Israel. The process was completed with acceptance test flights conducted by Mayor Juan Carlos Sapolsky traveling to Israel whenever batches of jets were technically approved, except for the first batch of six aircraft.
The most important changes included the replacement of the UHF communication with Collins VHF, incorporating a Collins VOR and changes in the instruments, however the old Cossor ADF was retained.