An ex-Spanish Air Force Mirage F1M flown by Draken has crashed after takeoff from Nellis Air Force Base, killing the pilot.
According to a statement released by the Air Force Base, “A contracted-aircraft that took off from Nellis Air Force Base crashed at approximately 2:30 pm May 24 outside the southern edge of the base. The aircraft was owned, operated and piloted by Draken US, a Florida-based company contracted to provide adversary air support to Nellis Air Force Base.”
The pilot was identified as Las Vegas resident Nicholas Hunter Hamilton, 43.
A witness said the aircraft was flying very low and its engine sounded like it was malfunctioning, according to KTNV Las Vegas.
The Mirage F1M was registered as N567EM (ex EdA C.14-56). Draken began flying its ex-Spanish F1Ms out of Nellis last year as part of ‘red air’ adversary support to the US Air Force.
This is the second incident with a Mirage F1. On 25 February 2021, a Mirage F1B, registration N601AX, operated by Airborne Tactical Advantage Company (ATAC) slid off the runway at Tyndall Air Force Base. ATAC bought 63 ex-French Mirage F1s for red air training.
Paramount Aerospace Systems helped Draken get its Mirage F1 fleet airworthy, with its first refurbished F1 taking to the air in November 2019. The first F1 adversary air flight took place in March 2020 when F1s challenged US Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles.
Draken has been selected by the US Air Force to support aircrew training at three locations across the USA. Draken has also acquired 12 ex-South African Air Force Cheetah fighters for red air training.
Draken aircraft currently are assigned to provide Red Air support for Air Mobility Command’s Mobility Guardian 2021 exercise in Michigan.