The courage, dedication, and airmanship of Horacio Mir Gonzalez set a fine example for the fighter pilots of Fuerza Aerea Argentina (FAA), the Argentine Air Force, during the 1982 Malvinas Conflict. Born the son of a fighter pilot in 1947, Mir Gonzalez always dreamed of flying fighters. Graduating from the FAA Academy in 1968, he completed pilot training a year later. He was then assigned to IV Air Brigade’s fighter lead-in training and operational flying in the F-86F Sabre . He later returned to the lead-in course and served as an instructor pilot for 3 years.
He transferred to VIII Air Brigade in 1976 and flew the Dassault Mirage IIIE, primarily in an air defense role. In November 1978, he became one of the first instructor pilots for Argentina’s newest air defense fighter, the M-5 Dagger, an Israeli-built version of the Dassault Mirage V. Mir Gonzalez attended the Israeli Air-to-Air Combat Instructor Course and then returned home to train the cadre of Dagger pilots. Grupo 6 de Caza (Fighter Group 6) was formed in late 1979 and grew slowly to 37 aircraft over the next 2 years. When the Argentinean occupation of the Malvinas Islands began on 2 April 1982, Grupo 6 had just activated its first two operational squadrons.
Mir Gonzalez, still one of the few experienced Dagger pilots, immediately began an intensive training program emphasizing anti-shipping tactics to prepare his unit. As a senior flight commander, Capitan Mir Gonzalez was determined to set an example for the men he had trained and would now lead. During May 1982, he led 20 combat missions across the nearly 400 miles of open, frigid water to the Malvinas. Facing a lethal British air defense system, they used a very low-level, high-speed attack profile as protection against surface-to-air missiles and relied on speed to evade the British Sea Harriers.
A typical mission consisted of a 45-minute overwater flight to the Malvinas, less than 4 minutes in the target area, and then a 45-minute flight home. Without air refueling capability, the Daggers routinely landed with only 4 minutes fuel remaining. After the conflict, he attended the FAA War College where he was selected for a second year of study to prepare for duty on the General Staff. Mayor Mir Gonzalez then commanded Escuadron II of Grupo 6 de Caza from 1985 until his transfer in 1987 to the General Staff where he worked in the Operational Plans Directorate. Vice Comordoro Mir Gonzalez is now assigned to Homestead AFB, Florida as Second Secretary, Office of the Secretary General, Organization for Cooperation of the Air Forces of the Americas.