France bids adieu to Dassault Alpha Jet as fighter training aircraft

Guillermo Pis Gonzalez /

The French Air Force completed the training of its final student pilots on the Alpha Jet E trainer jet. On March 16, 2023, the final six fighter pilots were promoted, marking the end of the Alpha Jet’s career as the advanced trainer of the French Air Force. 

Colloquially known as the “Gadget” in France, the Alpha Jet (or Alphajet) is a two-seater twin-jet aircraft designed by Dassault Aviation and Breguet for training and close air support as part of a joint Franco-German program. It has been used since 1979 by the French Air Force for the final training of its pilots, replacing the Fouga CM.170 Magister. 

In 2020, as it moved from the city of Tours to Cognac, the French school of fighter aviation also transitioned from the Alpha Jet to the Swiss-made Pilatus PC-21 for the training of its pilots. However, a final promotion continued its training with the Côte d’Or Training Squadron in Cazaux, near Bordeaux. 

This final training mission does not mark the end of the Alpha Jet service life with the French Air Force. Indeed, it will continue to fulfill its “aggressor” role for adversary training and be flown by the Patrouille de France, France’s main military aerobatic team. 

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