Mirage III IAI Nesher/Dagger

Regarding the 600 hours airframe and engine “P” inspection cell and engine, an Inspection “P” of 600 hours, some special ítems were added: stripping of the original camouflage scheme (later it was verified not to have been completed) and repainting with the requested FAA scheme. Furthermore, new braking parachutes were fitted or at least with 80% of their available life and new brake discs.
In September 1978 a commission left for Israel to complete the mantenance course, this group was formed by Vicecomodoro Antonio Rizzo Corallo, Tenientes Roberto Mammana and William Posadas and thirty NCOs.
This course, lasting three months and included weapons (DEFA 552 cannon and Shafrir II), structure, avionics and engine, was held in the premises of IAI in Ben Gurion and on several occasions cadets moved to Eitam in a twin-engine IDF/AF IAI Arava Light transport to observe maintenance operations on the frontline.

The first pilots are trained
For flight adaptation a programme was devised through which future pilots received tra Dagger training at different places in order to accelerate this stage.
A group led by Vicecomodoro Manuel Mir was posted to Israel and was formed by twelve pilots, Mayor Sapolsky, Captains Alberto Kajihara, Hector Pergolini, Carlos Martinez, Luis Puga and Guillermo Donadille and 1st Lieutenants Carlos Arnau, Horacio Mir Gonzalez, Eduardo Almoño, Roberto Janett, Carlos Musso, and Ruben Dimeglio.

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Four of these officers, Sapolsky, Pergolini, Arnau and Mir González, with previous experience in Mirage III, left for Israel in mid-October 1978, accompanied by Vicecomodor, for the air´to-aire combat and instructor courses. This course, the first one given to foreign crews would continue later in Argentina.
The remaining eight pilotoswent to Israel on 1 November1978, aboard an Aerolineas Argentinas flight destination Frankfurt, and from there boarded an El-Al Boeing 727 for the flight to Tel Aviv. Prior to their departure, they received a brief familiarization in the Mirage IIIDA two-seaters, but without flying solos. They also conducted an intensive English course, because during during the whole training stages were to be held in that language.
The arrival of the contingent was surrounded by a host of security measures organized by the Mossad (the famous Israeli intelligence service) in order to cover up the operation. As part of discretion mentioned, all Argentine personnel wore civilian clothes, and only the pilots Dresde with their flight overalls inmediatly before each flights As part of the cover-up, Israeli intelligence told them that before any question about their origin and activities should indicate that they belonged to a country called “Oswald” and were conducting the IAI Arava course, which was the airplane in which were shuttling to Eitam, and thus do not arouse greater suspicion.
The course was conducted by two experienced IAF instructors. One was Yoram Geva, a pilot that between 1972 and 1973 shot down six aircraft (four Syrians and two Egyptian), and the other was Shlomo Erez, also with active participation in the Yom Kippur war where he gota n Egyotian MiG-21 kill. The latter used to surprise with his skill each student on his first flight by a particular maneuver was to take off and stabilize the aircraft at low altitude over the runway and then over the desert to Mach 0.9 with AB (afterburner) engaged, then perform a 90º climb to reach zero speed and then fall on its tail preventing entring into a spin and recovering the the jet.

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For the flight activity, only the aircraft acquired by the FAA were used, who continued to wear Israeli camouflage and insignias. The flying course was noticeably different from that taught by the French and after a brief adaptation stage in the two seaters (no more than four or five sorties), the first solo flight was carried out.
The Israeli school of thought contemplated the use of the aircraft to the limit of its capabilities on the basis of experiences gained in combat while French style operated the jet always within the limits set by the flight manual in a more conservative style.
The flying activities revealed as extremely demanding because communications were in English, without instrumental precision navigation and flying in the middle of the desert, with few visual references and in very small sectors whose limits should not be exceeded because the west Egypt and east were the Israelis who did not hesitate to shoot the aircraft that entered its aispace without identification or authorization.
The experience was extremely important, living the Argentine pilots in a permanent state of alert due to the tense relationship between Israel and its Arab neighbors.
In this way and completed the adaptation, it was completed the first “solo” of an Argentine pilot on a Dagger on 8 November 1978. That honor went to the senior officer, Mayor Sapolsky, while Capitán Pergolini and 1º Tenientes Mir Gonzalez and Arnau did the same on 13 November.
Upon completion of the course, these pilots immediately returned to the country, to make the reception and transfer of Dagger who were close to arrive to the Port of Buenos Aires.
On 27 November Captains Donadille, Kajihara, Puga and Martinez recorded their fist solo flights and on 28 November the 1º Tenientes Almoño, Dimeglio, Janett and Musso. After the qualification, each pilot made a total of six to eight flights until the end of the course. The contingent quickly returned to the country on 20 December 1978 at a time when military actions with Chile seemed imminent.
Moreover, training other pilots assigned to the new material, was carried out with the Fuerza Aérea del Perú, at Chiclayo AB and with VIII Brigada Aérea in Argentina.
1º Tenientes Higinio Robles, Jorge Gatti, Jorge Ratti, Roberto Benavente, Jorge Senn and Daniel Herlein began the course in the Mirage IIIEA/DA, performing solo flights on 31 October 1978 with the pilots who would make up the group travelling to Peru. However Gatti and Benavente handed down their “wings” soon after their solo flight.

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The group of pilots sent to Peru conducted training at Cap Quiñones González Air Force Base of the Peruvian Air Force (FAP) within the 611 Escuadrón de Caza equipped with Mirage 5P/DP. This group was formed by 1º Tenientes Amílcar Cimatti, Raul Diaz, Carlos Maffeis, Alberto Dorado, Jorge Dellepiane and Carlos Rohde.
On 1 October 1978, aboard an Aerolineas Argentinas flight, this group of pilots arrived to Lima in civilian clothes, because as with the contingent sent to Israel, it was desired to keep the maximum reserve on the operation. Two days later, a a FAP transport flew them to Chiclayo, on the north coast of Peru.
They stayed at the Officers Mess of the unit and not in the city as not to raise any suspicion, starting immediately with advanced academic courses on Mirage 5 materials, equipment and operations.
On its completion, the flying stage started with the dual controls. Each pilot made seven thirty to forty minutes long sorties in which several subjects were fulfilled: air-to-air combat, safety margins anda ir-to-ground tactics, among others.
During such training an emergency was recorded with a lucky end. When the 1º Teniente Diaz was making his second flight in two-seater, shortly after takeoff, the aircraft suffered a bird ingestion. Feeling the blow and subsequent vibrations in the engine, the instructor declared an emergency and since the aircraft was in the vicinity of the base, landed without consequences.
On 18 October, the pilots made a single flight and then by concluded the course. They immediately moved to Lima to return and join the Escuadrón Dagger in early November.


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