The Dassault/Dornier Alpha Jet is Germany's advanced weapons trainer and up until 1995 was a Close Air Support aircraft. The aircraft seats two in tandem, a pilot in the front and instructor in the back, or in the attack configuration, a pilot in front and weapons officer in back. The aircraft is a high wing twin jet single tail fighter that looks remarkably like its largest competitor, the British Aerospace Hawk.

The Alpha Jet was designed in the late 1960's mainly for the Luftwaffe as an advanced weapons trainer. The Armee de l'Air(French Air Force) was also supposed to purchase a number of airframes, though it never did. The project was radically altered in 1971 when the decision was made in the Luftwaffe to adopt a light attack model. The model had no advanced avionics, Heads Up Display, or Electronic Counter Measures. The planes were picked to be fitted with these avionics in 1988, but then the collapse of the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact saw a drastic cut in defense spending, and Alfa Jets were retired as quickly as possible. Most were sold to friendly nations such as Portugal, which bought 50 of the aircraft.

The following specifications are drawn from The Encyclopedia of Modern Warplanes.

Maximum Speed: 621 miles per hour
Service Ceiling: 48,000 feet
Combat Radius: 363 miles on internal fuel or 668 miles with external fuel tanks.
Armament: one 27-mm Mauser Cannon, and up to 5,511 pounds of external stores on 5 hardpoints.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.