MUSCAT: The Royal Air Force of Oman (RAFO) held a ceremony to mark the retirement of its SEPECAT Jaguar ground attack aircraft after 37 long years of service to the nation. The ceremony was held at the Al Shafaq Club in Seeb last week.

The move leaves India as the only country in the world still using Jaguars, one of the first major joint Anglo-French military ground attack aircraft.

Muscat Daily in October 2013 had reported about Oman’s intention to ground Jaguar operations. Visiting Indian Air Vice Marshal C Hari Kumar had then said that Oman and India were the only two countries operating Jaguars. At the ceremony presided over by Air Vice Marshal Matar bin Ali al Obaidani, RAFO Commander, Jaguar’s role in serving the Sultan’s Armed Forces was praised.

The event was attended by a number of high ranking officials from RAFO and other armed forces, in addition to a number of retired air force officers.

The Jaguars have now been replaced by new F16 aircraft as part of a development and modernisation plan undertaken by RAFO. Although the ceremony was held last week, RAFO had officially retired its SEPECAT Jaguar operations, with the aircraft carrying out a disbandment flypast at the Thumrait airbase in August.

RAFO received its first Jaguar in 1977, under a 12-aircraft acquisition programme from the UK.

A second batch was ordered in 1982 and introduced the following year