DASSAULT/DORNIER ALPHAJET

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  • The Dassault/Dornier Alpha Jet is a light attack jet and advanced trainer aircraft co-manufactured by Dornier of Germany and Dassault-Breguet of France. Adopted by many air forces worldwide, the Alpha Jet continues to be widely used even though its useful service life is over in France and Germany, its primary operators.
  • Design and development

  • In the early 1960s, European air forces began to consider their requirements for the coming decades. One of the results was the emergence of a new generation of jet trainers to replace such aircraft as the Lockheed T-33 and Fouga Magister. The British and French began a collaboration on development of what was supposed to be a supersonic jet aircraft in two versions: trainer and light attack aircraft. The result of this collaboration, the SEPECAT Jaguar, proved to be an excellent aircraft, but its definition had changed in the interim, and the type emerged as a full-sized, nuclear-capable strike fighter, whose two-seat variants were used for operational conversion to the type, not for general training.
  • This left the original requirement unfulfilled and so the French began discussions with West Germany for collaboration. A joint specification was produced in 1968. The trainer was now subsonic, supersonic trainers having proven something of a dead end. A joint development and production agreement was signed in July 1969 which indicated that the two nations would buy 200 machines, each assembled in their own country.
  • Proposals were generated by three groups of manufacturers:
    • Dassault, Breguet and Dornier submitted the “TA501”, which had been developed through a merger of the Breguet 126 and Dornier P.375 concepts.
    • SNIAS/MBB submitted the “E.650 Eurotrainer”.
    • VFW-Fokker submitted the “VFT-291”.
  • All the proposals were to be powered by twin SNECMA Turbomeca Larzac turbofans.The German air force had insisted that the trainer have two engines after suffering severe attrition from accidents with their single-engine Lockheed F-104 Starfighter.