Belgian Air Force Alpha Jet trainers officially for sale

By Nathan Gain

The Belgian Air Force is officially selling its fleet of ageing Alpha Jet 1B advanced trainer aircraft, says an announcement released in late September on the European online tenders platform Ted.

Belgian Air Force Alpha Jets for sale 001 A BAF Alpha Jet 1B+ trainer aircraft
(Credit: Belgian Ministry of Defense)

According to the document, the Belgian Defense Ministry opened a tender for the “sale of Alpha Jet aircraft and related equipment”. Divided in three main batches, the offer not only includes the platforms, but also the “engines and documentation”. The first lot is available now, the second from December 2019, and the third starting in Spring of 2020. A fourth and a fifth batches concern spare parts and support material, and the sale of the AMST System Trainer, both available in the first quarter of 2020. 

An obvious customer could potentially be the French Air Force which operates the same platform. The "Patrouille de France" (FAF"s acrobatic team) is said to be putting a lot of strain on its Alpha Jets which are routinely picked from the training squadrons. French Alpha Jets are ageing as well. Acquiring second hand trainers of the same type which have never been put through the stress of acrobatic demonstrations could be a no brainer for the FAF.

The BAF fleet of 29 Dassault Alpha Jet trainers is in service since 1978.  Since 2004, they are all detached to the French-Belgian "Advanced Jet Training School" (AJeTS) at Cazaux Air Base, in the south-west of France. The aircraft were all upgraded to the 1B+ standard in 2000, equipping them with an inertial navigation system coupled with a GPS receiver, a head-up display and a 3M system.

This cooperation will end in 2019, with the withdrawal of the BAF Alpha Jets. Because of budget constraints, Belgium decided not to replace them with a new aircraft. Belgian student pilots will now be trained in the US, at the Sheppard Air Base (Texas), where the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training (ENJJPT) is based.