France Is in the Process of Replacing Alpha Jets
France is Replacing Alpha Jets
The alpha jet has been an important symbol of French aviation and warfare for decades now, but it seems that the air force is about to call time on its service in favor of new and improved models. It is believed that France currently has 86 of these Dassault-Breguet/Dornier Alpha Jet trainers in active service but, after years of fantastic service and training for the next generation of pilots, the time has clearly come to upgrade with a new fleet. The question is, which plan is the likely replacement?
Some belief that the replacement alpha jet is going to come from Italy
There is no confirmed word on the French Air Force's first choice for replacing their Dassault/Dornier craft, but it is strongly believed that the likely replacement is Alenia Aermacchi's M-345. This Italian model is a popular plane across Europe, so it does not come as a massive surprise that the French are looking to using to replaced their old fleet. The Italian firm is currently selling this jets to Poland and there is also interest from Austria, Belgium, and Spain. The creators say that a French fleet would be ideal for strengthening the training network in Europe and offering more services across the continent.
It is not just the Italians that are interested in providing new alpha jets for the French
While the Italian company is seen as the front-runner here by many, there is support for other manufacturers too. It appears that the French DGA are looking at different options for training planes to fill the gap until the upgraded Rafale arrives. These additional options include:
- the Pilatus PC-21 turboprop
- the Czech firm Aero Vodochody's New Generation L-39
- the BAE System Hawk Jet trainer
- the Beechcraft T-6 Texan
Will the Italians really be providing these replacement alpha jets, as they currently suspect, or could one of these rivals take the prize?
So far, much of the talk about this proposed deal has come solely from the Italian manufacturers, with the French DGA seeming a little more tight-lipped about their true interest. It has been suggested that a team from DGA and the French Air Force are set to head out to the Italian plant in Venegono to take a look at these jets and pursue a deal. The creators say that the French are very interested in owning 35 of these planes, which just happens to be the same number owned by the Italian Air Force. All of this is yet to be confirmed on both sides. This suggests that they may still be keeping their options open about a replacement.
There is still a little while to wait until we know for certain which direction the French Air Force is going to take with these replacement fleet. What is certain, however, is that they have plenty of interested parties hoping to make a deal. Sources suggest that the French are looking to make a decision by summer 2016, with some companies expecting to hear from them later in the autumn.