Air Weapons

Dassault-Breguet / Dornier

Alpha Jet

The joint Franco-German Alpha Jet program led by Dassault-Breguet (France) and Dornier (Germany) was intended initially to produce an advanced trainer for the air forces of both nations. The Luftwaffe, however, decided on producing an aircraft with light ground-attack capability and this led to the production of the Alpha Jet A which replaced the venerable Fiat G.91 in service. Despite its small size, the Alpha Jet is equipped with a HUD, RWR and a Doppler navigation system and can be fitted with weapons like cluster bombs. A major upgrade in 1987 resulted in provision for improved avionics like a laser rangefinder, new engines, and capability for carrying Maverick and Sidewinder missiles. With the collapse of the USSR, budget cuts have practically retired the Alpha Jet from Luftwaffe and Armée de l'Air service although most have been sold to foreign nations such as Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, Portugal and Thailand.

First flight of the prototype Alpha Jet was on 26 October 1973. The first production variant was the Alpha Jet E, a two-seater trainer aircraft in service with the Armeé de l'Air. The Alpha Jet A, in service with the Luftwaffe, features the attack capability mentioned above but also retains a secondary operational training role. A number of aircraft were assembled by AOI in Egypt, these are known as the Alpha Jet MS1 and MS2 and feature upgraded avionics and weapons. Further development includes the much improved Alpha Jet 2 and 3 although thse have only reached the prototype stage.

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