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The Dassault/Dornier Alpha Jet was a joint French and German project to develop a light attack and advanced jet trainers. First flying in October 1973, the Alpha Jet is the same generation of jet trainer as the BAE Hawk and is still the chosen display aircraft for the French national display team the Patrouille de France. The original aircraft was deliberately simple to aid in training and to make the aircraft easy to export, later versions and upgrades would be fitted with more advanced modern avionics. The Alpha Jet was originally built in two versions, the Alpha Jet A which was combat capable and the Alpha Jet E which was a pure trainer. Eight nations still fly the type.
The Alpha Jet A originally entered service with the German Air Force as a light strike aircraft and their first aircraft flew in 1978. Replacing the Fiat G91R, Germany acquired 175 aircraft which were later upgraded to carry Aim-9 Sidewinder air to air missiles and the AGM-65 Maverick. Upon retirement in the late 1990s Germany sold its Alpha Jet A fleet to number of operators including the UK's QinetiQ who used it a test aircraft. A large proportion of the fleet were however acquired by Canada-based Top Aces who use the aircraft for contracted training and aggressor services to militaries around the world.
Top Aces will be providing one of its Alpha Jet As for static display at this year's Air Tattoo. This will be the first time Top Aces have displayed an Alpha Jet at RIAT. Photo Credit: Michael Hind