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The Air and Space Forces want a “modular” plane to replace the Alphajet

The Air and Space Forces want a “modular” plane to replace the Alphajet

For several weeks, Ukrainian student pilots, having completed their initial training in the United Kingdom, continued their studies in Cazaux, where, within the 3/8 Training Squadron “Côte d'Or”, the French Army Air and Space Corps. [AAE] It retained some Alphajet training aircraft.

As a reminder, 3/8 “Kut d'Or” is a squadron that plays the role of the “opposing force.” [ou Red Air]. However, in 2023, he “temporarily” took over the task of training a handful of student pilots. [français]These were the last people to fly on an Alphajet plane.

In fact, with the implementation of the FOMEDEC and MENTOR plans, the curriculum for future AAE fighter pilots is based exclusively on the Pilatus PC-21, at the 709th Air Base in Cognac.

However, the announced withdrawal of the Alphajet raises questions about the future of Patrouille de France [PAF]Which carries out its air shows with eight aircraft of this type. Certainly, in 2019, Gen. Philip Lavigne, then-chief of staff of the Air and Space Forces [AAE]He indicated that discussions are underway to find a potential successor. Did they succeed?

Last October, Representative Dr [RN] Frank Giletti, the AAE's opinion rapporteur on budget appropriations, sent a written question to the Ministry of the Armed Forces to find out its intentions regarding the Alphajet and Patrouille de France aircraft. The response has just been published in the Official Gazette.

Hence, noting that airframes used by the PAF suffer from accelerated wear, “keeping in mind the almost permanent changes in aircraft under load factor”, it is important to have “a sufficient fleet of aircraft to facilitate the aging of the aircraft”. Machinery ensures the long-term representation mission.”

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Since there is no room to question the current approach of fighter pilots, “it therefore seems necessary to support the PAF mission with another mission, namely the operational preparation of the forces, which is currently being carried out by the Rafale fighter squadrons.” “The Mirage and to a lesser extent the Alphajet are within Squadron 3/8,” explains the Ministry of the Armed Forces.

In any case, “after 2032, the sustainability of the PAF is not in question and all solutions are also possible and considered, especially with the UK and Spain,” even if these two countries do not necessarily have the same timeline for replacing their training aircraft.

However, the Royal Air Force [RAF] It plans to replace the Hawk T2s. The results of the study conducted for this purpose must be presented this year. The challenge is to adapt pilot training as the sixth generation of fighter aircraft on which GCAP will be based enters service. [Global Combat Air Programme]. Note that the British manufacturer Aeralis offers a training aircraft that can be available in three different versions depending on needs. It also benefited from subsidies provided by the Rapid Capabilities Office [RCO] In order to develop his concept.

As for Spain, it follows almost the same path as France in terms of training, with the PC-21 being commissioned and the CASA C-101 Aviojet training aircraft being withdrawn in 2022, which was given to the Patrulla Águila. The operational transition of the Spanish student pilots is still taking place on the F-5 Tiger. This device could eventually be replaced by the Airbus Future Jet Trainer.

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The solution remains for the Ministry of the Armed Forces to “develop or acquire a standard aircraft that meets the needs of patrols, red aviation, and also a complementary aircraft, in light of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces and its manned carriers, the NGF.”

Photo: AE