The aircraft for today is the one that was created after the joint efforts of two countries and there 2 leading aircraft manufacturing companies. The name of this aircraft is Dassault Dornier Alpha Jet which serves the roles of not only a light attack jet but also that of an advanced trainer jet. The companies behind the creation of this dual-purpose aircraft are Dassault Aviation working in France and Germany’s Dornier Flugzeugwerke. The purpose behind the creation of the Dassault Dornier Alpha Jet was to act the roles for training as well as light attacking missions along with the idea to perform roles that other first-generation trainer jets could not do.
The origin of the Dassault Dornier Alpha Jet came from the aircraft competition in which three following companies presented their design.
- Dassault Aviation
- Breguet Aviation
- Dornier Flugzeugwerke
The Dassault Dornier Alpha Jet was initially designated with title TA501 and was later selected for the production of Alpha Jet.
This aircraft made with efforts of Dornier and Dassault Aviation was liked by the German Air Force and French Air Force and they went on to procure it masses. Germany used the aircraft for its light attack missions while France for its training missions. While the German Air Force retired their fleet back in the late 1990s, the aircraft is still serving its dual roles in France as well as many other operators.
On a proposal set by Germany for a new dual-purpose aircraft, a competition was formed for all the notable aircraft manufacturing companies. In response to the requirements companies; Dassault Aviation, Dornier and Breguet Aviation presented their model designated TA501. This aircraft was created as a joint concept of the Breguet’s 126 and the Dornier’s P.375. Other than this aircraft design VFW-Fokker presented their VFT-291and SNIAS/MBB showcased their E.650 Eurotrainer.
Every aircraft of these 3 was powered by 2 of the SNECMA Turbomeca Larzac turbofan engines. The main requirement from the German Air force was that the new aircraft should have a dual powerplant after they suffered losses on the single-engine training aircraft; Lockheed F-104 Starfighter.
Production and First Flights:-
The ultimate winner of this design completion was the Breguet-Dassault-Dornier TA501 that was selected back on July 23rd, 1970. The aircraft was ready for its production phases which started in the location of Saint-Cloud Paris France along with a Franco-German protocol being signed. With these steps, the creation of the first 4 prototypes was green-lighted. Dassault Aviation was given the role of the pilot company in this project and also had the final authority for making decisions about designs as well as management.
Two of the prototypes were produced by Dassault Aviation while the other 2 were produced by Dornier. The French prototype took it to the skies back on October 26th, 1973 while the German ones took their first light by the end of the year 1974.
The design of the Dassault Dornier Alpha Jet was made in such a manner that it was proved to be an efficient training platform for the upcoming pilots to know about the intricacies they have to bear when operating a real jet-powered fighter jet that has high-speed armament delivery systems. This twin-engine aircraft with its two-seat design proved to be a fast mount that was made better with its swept-wing monoplanes to allow it clearance for its various ordnance delivery systems attached to its underwing hardpoints.
The aircraft has a single vertical tail fin fixed above the two of its engine exhausts with air intakes placed on its cockpit’s either side. The forward style of the aircraft allowed for the pilot to have improved forward visibility from its two-piece glass canopy. The seat of the instructor pilot was in the aircraft’s rear. As for the undercarriage of the Dassault Dornier Alpha Jet, it was of the standard tricycle arrangement that had two landing gears with single wheels in front and one in the rear. All of these landing gears are retractable.
Powerplant and other specs:-
To power this Dassault Dornier Alpha Jet trainer slash light attack fighter, it was installed with 2 of the SNECMA Turbomeca Larzac 04-C5 turbofan engines. Both these engines created a thrust of about 3175 lbs and are buried deep within the fuselage’s middle aft section. The maximum speed achieved by the Dassault Dornier Alpha Jet is about 620mph for a combat range of 362 miles with ferry range being 1800 miles. As for the maximum service ceiling of the Dassault Dornier Alpha Jet, it is 48000 feet with a climbing rate of 11200 ft/min.
The standard armament configuration of the Dassault Dornier Alpha Jet is a single 27mm auto-cannon of MuaserBK-27seires in the fuselage’s centerline. In the Dassault Aviation’s version, this cannon was replaced with a 30 mm internal DEFA cannon in the same place.
For its hardpoints on the wing, the Dassault Dornier Alpha Jet has the ability to carry air-to-surface AGM-65 Maverick missile along with air-to-air Matra Magic II series and AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles. In addition to this, the Dassault Dornier Alpha Jet was also able to carry the traditional drop bombs, cannon pods, cluster bombs and rocket pods on its 5 hardpoints. The maximum munition carrying capacity of the aircraft is 5500lbs externally.
Prior to retiring its fleet of the Dassault Dornier Alpha Jet aircraft, the German Air Force operated 93 of these aircraft that were used for roles of both trainer and the close air support missions. These German-made Dassault Dornier Alpha Jets were also fitted with the Doppler radar systems for navigation as well as with the Nav-Attack suite for giving it close support firing capabilities. German Air Force retired their fleet back in 1997 with 50 of them sold to the Portuguese Air Force and 6 of them to the UK.
The other main operator of the Dassault Dornier Alpha Jet is France which has 99 of these Dassault Dornier Alpha Jet aircraft and they are still in service with the French Air Force.
Total number of aircraft produced and current status:-
All in all nearly 408 of these Dassault Dornier Alpha Jets were manufactured that were sold to Germany and France as well as few other nations. France has placed these aircraft under many modernization phases to improve them and make them ready for battlefields.