AFTER 25 years of service, the Força Aérea Portuguesa (FAP – Portuguese Air Force) bade farewell to its Dassault-Breguet/Dornier Alpha-Jet during a ceremony at Base Aérea No 11 Beja on January 13. The type was operated in the advanced pilot training and F-16AM/BM operational conversion roles by Esquadra 103 ‘Caracóis’ at Beja and had been in FAP service since 1993.
Several generations of pilots, mechanics and others associated with the type came to Beja for the ceremony. The event was also attended by the Air Force Chief of Staff, General Manuel Teixeira Rolo, the Air Commander, Lieutenant General Joaquim Borrego, as well as other senior military and civil dignitaries.
The FAP took delivery of 50 second-hand Alpha-Jets from the German Luftwaffe, although ten of these were only used for spares. During 25 years of operations, only one was lost, on October 23, 2003, when it crashed following a mid-air collision. Over the last few years, the remaining aircraft have been progressively withdrawn from use, with most being placed in storage at Beja, while a few others have been preserved at various FAP bases. Latterly, just six aircraft (serials 15206, 15208, 15211, 15226, 15236, 15250) remained in operational condition and these were all flown in a six-ship formation to mark the retirement.