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The SOCATA TB 30 Epsilon is a light military trainer that first flew in 1979. The Epsilon was developed in response to a French requirement to replace the Fouga Magister jet trainer with a piston powered trainer. Once traiing was complete on the new trainer, students would then transition directly to the Alpha Jet for advanced pilot training. The prototype was converted in the early 1980s to act as the prototype for a turboprop powered version of the Epsilon which was to be called the TB 31 Omega. The Omega was offered to the USAF as part of their Joint Primary Aircraft Training System but no orders were made.
Other than Togo who received four armed Epsilons, the Portuguese Air Force were the only other export customer for the trainer. Portugal ordered 18 aircraft in 1987 and these were locally assembled by OGMA. The Portuguese Epsilon fleet is based at BA11 in Beja where they recently moved to from BA1 Sintra. All aircraft are flown by 101 Squadron, known as the Roncos.
The Roncos will once again be sending a pair of Epsilons for static display at this year's Air Tattoo. Photo Credit: Duncan Chase