The Jaguar program began in the early 1960s, in response to a British requirement for an advanced supersonic jet trainer, and a French need for a cheap, subsonic dual role traner and attack aircraft with good short field performance. From these apparently disparate aims would come a single and entirely different aircraft: relatively high-tech, supersonic, and optimised for ground attack in a high-threat environment. It was planed as a replacement for the RAF Hawker Hunter and the Armee de l'Air F-100 Super Sabre.
Cross-channel negotiations led to the formation of SEPECAT (the Société Européenne de Production de l'Avion d'Ecole de Combat et d'Appui Tactique) in 1966 as a joint venture between Bréguet (the design leader) and the British Aircraft Corporation to produce the airframe, and a separate teaming of Rolls-Royce and Turboméca to develop the Adour afterburning turbofan engine.
The first of 8 prototypes flew on September 8 1968. It was an orthodox single-seat, swept-wing, twin-engine design with a maximum take-off weight in the 15 tonne class, a wingspan of 8.7m, and overall length of 16.8 m. Combat radius on internal fuel was 850 km, maximum speed Mach 1.6 (Mach 1.1 at sea level) and hardpoints were fitted for an external weapons load of up to 10 tonnes.
The Armee de l'Air took delivery of the first production Jaguar in 1973: one of an eventual 160 single-seat Jaguar As. For type conversion training, France also took 40 of the two-seat Jaguar B. The RAF accepted delivery of the first of 165 single-seat Jaguar GR.1s (or "Jaguar S") in 1974. These were supplemented by 35 two-seat trainers, the Jaguar T2 (or "Jaguar B" according to the manufacturer's designation). The proposed M variant, a carrier launched version, was cancelled.
Jaguars were also sold on the export with some success, the largest single customer being India, which built around 100 under license. Othr Jaguar operators are Ecuador, Nigeria and Oman.