Bye bye "Mitch"...Welcome "Grat"...

Text: Serge Van Heertum - Pictures : SBAP collection as mentionned © sbap 2013


The decision to purchase a new trainer for the Belgian Air Force was taken on September 13th, 1973. The Belgian government decided to purchase 33 Dassault-Breguet/Dornier Alpha Jet 1B to replace the Lockheed T-33A “T-Bird” and the Potez CM170R “Fouga Magister” fleet. The Intent Letter was signed in October 1973 and the final purchase contract in September 1975. The first Alpha Jet (named “gadget” by the pilots) for the Belgian Air Force was assembled in France at the Dassault/Breguet facilities and the 32 remaining aircraft  were built by SABCA at Gosselies. The aircraft were delivered to the EPA (Ecole de Pilotage Avancé) based at Brustem. The aircraft were used by the 7th and 11th Squadron. A peculiar fact was that the planes coming out of SABCA kept their grey primer paint until the 3 tone “Vietnam” color scheme was applied in the paint shop of Brustem AFB. This means that during a couple on month’s it was possible to see some Alpha Jet executing their training missions in a grey outfit. It seemed fitting to present a page with some pictures of it, and maybe convince some modelers to make an original model of the first Alpha Jet in Belgian service.

Dassault assembly line (Marc Brouyere) SABCA assembly line (Coll SBAP via Sabca)
AT01 delivered in Belgium on (Coll SBAP) During test flight in France (Coll SBAP)
Official picture of the AT01 (Coll SBAP) AT01 escorted by the 11th Squadron T-Birds (Coll SBAP)
AT02 final assembly (Coll SBAP via Sabca) Arrival at Brustem of the first aircraft assembled in Belgium (Coll SBAP)
Technician crew at arrival (Coll SBAP) Towing (Coll SBAP)
AT-03 on the flight line (Coll SBAP) Waiting the next mission (Coll SBAP)
Elegant aircraft (Coll SBAP) AT04 at SABCA facilities (Coll SBAP via Sabca)
AT06 (Coll SBAP via Sabca) Waiting to be transfered at Brustem (Coll SBAP via Sabca)
AT09 in flight (Coll SBAP) A interesting project for modellers (Coll SBAP)
AT09 above Ardennes (Coll SBAP) AT10 in Brustem hangar (Coll SBAP)
AT10 photoflight (Coll SBAP) AT16 in flight (Coll SBAP)
Some passes at Goetsenhoven during an open door (Serge Van Heertum) Close up on the former 2nd squadron pilot (Serge Van Heertum)
AT16 in formation with the EPE SF.260's (Serge Van Heertum) AT23 on the flight line (Coll SBAP)
AT23 begins under belgian colors (Coll Bruno Ghils) AT25 with already painted brother in arm (Coll Bruno Ghils)
AT25 at Brustem (Coll SBAP) AT27 in SABCA facilities (Coll SBAP via Sabca)
AT28 (Coll SBAP) On the line, note the AT04 painted now (Coll SBAP)
AT28 (Coll SBAP) AT32 on the line (Coll SBAP)
And the last one, the AT33

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