Alpha Jet

Training and tactical-support twin-jet tandem two-seater used by the Patrouille de France aerobatics team since 1981.

Origins and prototypes

This training and tactical-support twin-jet tandem two-seater was designed for a program jointly run by France’s and Germany’s air forces.

It was the first aircraft produced conjointly by Dassault and Breguet. Planned to succeed the Fouga Magister and the Lockheed T 33, it was undertaken in cooperation with the German Dornier Corporation. Specifications were changed during the development.

On April 1971, the program was the following:

  • a French training version, as simple as possible ;
  • a German close air support and battlefield reconnaissance version, with the extra cost being borne by the German government.

The first flight of prototype 01 took place at Istres on October 26, 1973 with Jean-Marie Saget at the controls. The aircraft maneuvered well and had no difficulties at transonic speeds.

Production and operational experience

The first production Alpha Jet E intended for the Air Force which had ordered 175 models, made its first flight at Istres on November 4, 1977, and went into operational service on January 30, 1979. The tactical support version selected by the Luftwaffe which had also ordered 175, was delivered starting in 1980.

The performance and dependability of the Alpha Jet designated it as the replacement model for the Fouga Magister for the Patrouille de France aerobatics team as of 1981. In Total, 512 Alpha Jets were produced (of which 329 were exported); for ten Air Forces (Belgium, Cameroon, Egypt, France, Ivory Coast, Morocco, Nigeria, Qatar, Togo, West Germany). They now have over a million flying hours to their credit.