The Pima Air and Space Museum, near Tucson, Arizona, took delivery of a former Swiss Air Force Dassault Mirage IIIRS on February 22nd. The museum acquired this jet from Piet Smedts Aero, a Dutch company which specializes in the sale, acquisition and rental of former military aircraft. The Mirage arrived packed inside a shipping container and will soon undergo reassembly for display.
This particular Mirage served as R-2107, one of just 18 Swiss reconnaissance variants. The Swiss Air Force’s relationship with the Mirage was a complicated one, but the type served with distinction from the mid-1960s through the early 2000s. They operated a variety of Mirage variants, which included 36 Mirage IIIS (fighter), four Mirage IIIBS (operational trainer), two Mirage IIIDS (trainer) and a sole Mirage IIIC (all weather interceptor).
R-2107 served with the Swiss Air Force’s Fliegerstaffel 10 (No.10 Squadron), their dedicated photo-reconnaissance unit based at the now-dormant military airfield in Buochs. Interestingly, a sister-ship to R-2107, R-2109, is still based at Buochs in ground-running condition inside one of the old hardened air shelters. Be sure to check out our story on this beautiful aircraft and the remarkable organization which operates her HERE.
While the F-18 Hornet replaced the Swiss Mirage IIIS fighters, the RS reconnaissance variant lingered on a few more years until they also retired in October, 2003. R-2107 was one of the last to stand down, but the honors of the final flight by a Swiss Mirage goes to Mirage IIIRS R-2118. This final sortie concluded on December 17, 2003 (the 100th anniversary of powered flight) when pilot Markus “Zurigo” Zürcher, Fliegerstaffel 10’s CO, landed R-2118 at Dübendorf for her eventual display at the locally-based Flieger-Flab-Museum.
With respect to R-2107’s future, she has been in indoor storage for most of her retirement and is in excellent, near-complete condition, so the airframe should not present a problem during reassembly. At some point, she will join the queue for a repaint. As with most of Pima’s airframes, the newly acquired Mirage will go on outdoor display, but thankfully Arizona’s arid, inland climate lends itself well to this kind of long-term exhibition. The Pima Air & Space Museum is one of the world’s truly great aviation museums, with perhaps the most diverse and comprehensive collection of airframes anywhere on earth. To learn more about this important, and ever-growing organization, please visit www.pimaair.org.