Girish Mahajan (Editor)

03.003 Fighter Squadron "Ardennes"

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Active  October 1943 - present
Branch  French Air Force
Country  France
Garrison/HQ  Nancy – Ochey Air Base
03.003 Fighter Squadron

Motto(s)  "Ne Recule Ni Ne Dévie" (Never retreat or deviate)
Website  Official Website (in French)

03.003 Fighter Squadron "Ardennes" (French: Escadron de Chasse 03-003 "Ardennes") or EC 3/3 is a squadron of the French Air Force currently based at Nancy – Ochey Air Base (ICAO: LFSO) and is equipped with the two-seat Dassault Mirage 2000D all-weather attack aircraft.



The 'Ardennes' Fighter Group can trace its beginnings to Rayak, Lebanon, May 1943 - February 1944. The group resulted from negotiations over the summer of 1943 between the Free French Air Force commander for the Middle-East General Valin and Air Chief Marshal Arthur Tedder, AOC RAF Middle East Command, to set up a fighter group using Hurricane IIC to patrol the coast of Syria and Palestine.

After being officially created on 1 January 1944, the Ardennes fighter group moved to Acre to receive its first Hurricane IIC from the British. Operational patrols started as of 2 February of that year. Located in Acre the Ardennes fighter group doubled up as No. 261 Squadron RAF.

At the end of April 1944 the group was ordered to make for French North Africa

The Coastal Command

North Africa, May to September 1944

On 2 May a dozen Hurricanes flew to Ismaïlia air field in Cairo and returned their aircraft to the British before departing for Oran in Algeria with a British convoy on 13 May 1944. The group then moved to Bône Bône les Salines airfuekd where the II/3 "Dauphiné" figfhter group was stationed. The group is provisionally attached to Bône Fighter Command and takes over the coastal patrol duties of II/3 group.

The group received its first P-47s during the first half of July 1944 only to have them transferred to I/4 Navarre group while III/3 Ardennes replaces I/4 group coastal patrol duties from Réghaïa air base operating P-49s. On 15 July they are replaced at Bône by III/6 group and from 17 July they are attached temporarily to the USAF 338th Wing operating under the Mediterranean Allied Coastal Air Force or "MACAF"

On 18 August 1944 the group receives word that they will receive 25 P-47s and that they will make for France together with the other groups attached to the 3rd Fighter Squadron. They disembarked in Marseille on 20 September and were stationed at Salon de provence from 24 September 1944.

The Tactical Command

France, October 1944 to May 1945 At Salon, III/3 group is initially attached to 3rd Squadron together with I/5 and III/6 fighter groups. From 31 October the group is operational with new aircraft and carry out reconnaissance and straffing missions in support of the allied offensive to free Alsace.

The group is moved to Luxeuil on 2 January, but has to move to Dole to enable repairs on Luxeuil from February to May.

Back at Luxeuil the group provided air support for the French First Army progressing through Austria and along the Danube. From 9 April the group relocates to Wintzenheim near Colmar to be closer to the front line where the participate in allied bombings of Stuttgart and V1 launch sites.

Post War

Niedermendig, Germany, May 1945 - March 1946 The group is stationed near Koblenz but is disbanded on 1 March 1946

IV/4 "Ardennes" fighter squadron on Vampire.

Friedrichschafen, Germany, January to October 1950

Ardennes squadron comes back to life in January 1950 with the reorganization of the French Air Force and is initially stationed in Friedrichshafen together with:

  • I/4 "Dauphiné",
  • II/4 "Lafayette"
  • III/4 "Flandres"
  • The squadron is equipped with Vampire marked 4A (for Ardennes) - A à Z. On 1 October 1950 the squadron is again disbanded.

    III/3 "Ardennes" fighter squadron on F-84.

    Reims, France, January 1953 to November 1957

    III/3 "Ardennes" was recreated on 1 January 1953 and together with I/3 "Navarre" et II/3 "Champagne" made up the 3rd Squadron of the 3rd Air Brigade based at Rheims. Flying 25 F-84G its mission is to train pilotes for fighter-bomber operations. In 1955 the first F-84F "Thunderstreak"s arrive with the whole squadron converting to F-84 by 2 July 1956.

    Rising tension in Egypt result in the squadron moving to RAF Station Akrotiri in Cyprus from 21 August 1956.

    Suez canal crisis

    Akrotiri, Cyprus, September 1956 to March 1957

    III/3 in Akrotiri consisting of 52 pilots and 36 aircraft carried out its first operations on 31 October 1956 before the cease fire of 7 November 1956. The squadron remained in RAF Akrotiri as the only French fighter wing until March 1957. Only 8 months after its return to reims it is once again disbanded.

    Israeli Mirage Vs

    Nancy – Ochey Air Base, France, June 1974 to March 1977

    The squadron is created again on 1 June 1974 as 3/3 Squadron based in Nancy – Ochey Air Base and is equipped with 16 Mirages 5J ordered by Israel but not delivered due to an embargo. From December 1975 to February 1976 six pilots were detached to Zaire.


    Nancy – Ochey Air Base, March 1977 to May 1987

    As of November 1976, 3/3 starts its transformation to Jaguar , the first aircraft (A29) is delivered on 25 February and by October has 11 aircraft which are to be specialized in radar detection and destruction using the anglo-french AS-37 Martel missile.

    Mirage IIIE

    Nancy – Ochey Air Base, France, May 1987 to June 1994

    3/3 starts its migration to Mirage IIIE from April 1987 with the first Mirage IIIE n°554 « 3-XA » arriving on 1 July 1987. By January 1988 the squadron has 15 planes carrying the supersonic AS-30L missile or AS-37 Martel. In 1994 the Mirage IIIE is withdrawn and replaced by Mirage 2000D.

    Surgical strikes Mirage 2000D.

    Nancy – Ochey Air Base, June 1994 to present

    Mirage 2000D n°617 is the first aircraft delivered on 30 May 1994. The Mirage 2000D represents a quantum leap and requires significant training between April and December 1994. The last 2000D (n°665) was delivered on 23 July 1999

    From 1994 to 1996, 3/3 is deployed to Cervia in Italy to participate in Operation Deny Flight and Deliberate Force operations in Bosnia & Herzegovina. Subsequent missions are carried out in:

  • Kosovo from 1998 to 1999
  • Bosnia & Herzegovina from 1998 to 2002
  • Afghanistan in 2002 & again 2005
  • Democratic Republic of Congo in 2003
  • Libya in 2011
  • Mali in 2013
  • Constituent wings

  • 1st fighter wing III/3 Hure Barre bleue
  • 2nd fighter wing III/3 Hure Barre rouge
  • BR.44 wing Hure Barre verte
  • Stations/Airfields

  • Acre RAF Airfield, Palestine Feb 1944 to Mar 1944
  • Bône 213 Air Base, Algeria May 1944 to Jul 1944
  • Reghaïa 146 Air Base, Algeria Jul 1944 to Sep 1944
  • Salon-de-Provence Air Base, France Oct 1944 to Jan 1945
  • Luxeuil Air Base, France Jan 1945 to Apr 1945
  • Wintzenheim, France Apr 1945 to May 1945
  • Mendig Air Base, Germany - French zone May 1945 to Mar 1946
  • Disbanded from Mar 1946 to Jan 1950
  • Friedrichshafen 136 Air Base, Germany - French zone Jan to Oct 1950
  • Disbanded from Oct 1950 to Jan 1953
  • Reims – Champagne Air Base, France Jan 1953 to Sep 1956
  • Akrotiri RAF Airfield, Cyprus, Sep 1956 to Mar 1957
  • Reims – Champagne Air Base, France Mar 1957 to Nov 1957
  • Disbanded from Mar 1957 to Jun 1974
  • Nancy – Ochey Air Base, France Jun. 1974 to present
  • Aircraft

  • Hawker Hurricane IIC (1944)
  • Curtiss P-40 Warhawk (1944)
  • Bell P-39 Airacobra (1944)
  • Republic P-47 Thunderbolt (1944 to 1946)
  • de Havilland Vampire (Jan. to Oct. 1950)
  • Republic F-84G/F Thunderjet (1954 to 1957)
  • Mirage 5F (1973 to 1976)
  • Jaguar (1976 to 1987)
  • Mirage IIIE (1987 to 1994)
  • Mirage 2000D (1994 to present)
  • L'EC 3/3 Ardennes sur le site de l'Armée de l'Air
  • Le site de l'EC 3/3 Ardennes
  • Le Groupe "Ardennes" à Wintzenheim
  • Le Groupe "Ardennes" à Wintzenheim : l'enterrement des pilotes
  • References

    03.003 Fighter Squadron "Ardennes" Wikipedia