French training jet cockpit explodes after birdstrike

© Dassault Aviation – G. Gosset

An Alphajet of the French Air Force had to request an emergency landing at La Rochelle airport (LRH) after the forward window of his cockpit was destroyed mid-flight by a collision with a bird.

The Alphajet belonged to Cazaux Air Base 120 (LFBC), in southwestern France. The base is mainly used for the training and integration of French and foreign fighter pilots. 

The plane was on a training flight on June 19, 2020, when it hit a bird. “The collision occurred at low altitude, between 500 and 1,000 feet (150 and 300 meters)” the commander of the airbase, Colonel Noël Farnault told local news. The pilot was not injured and was repatriated to Cazaux.

While the incident was relatively harmless (except for the poor animal), bird strikes can have more serious consequences for combat aircraft. 

On August 17, 2019, a Northrop T-38 Talon crashed during a training mission in the United States after suffering a bird strike. Its pilot, an instructor, managed to eject and was only slightly injured. 

On July 1, 2019, an A-10C Thunderbolt II of the United States Air Force dropped three training bombs after being hit by a bird near Suwannee Springs, Florida.

A successful collaboration

The Alphajet is a two-seater twin-jet aircraft for training, close air support, and reconnaissance designed by Dassault Aviation and Breguet from a joint Franco-German program. 

It has been used since 1979 by the French Air Force for the final training of its pilots. It is also the aircraft flown by the French aerobatic team, the Patrouille de France. However, since June 14, 2020, it was partly replaced by the Swiss-made Pilatus PC-21.

Check out the last flight of the Tours Air Base 705 Alphajets:

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