Stewart Penney/LONDON

The Belgian air force is upgrading its Dassault/ Dornier Alpha Jets in a bid to reduce the maintenance requirements for its advanced trainers.

Maj Ronnie Vaerten, Belgian air force Alpha Jet test pilot, says older equipment with a high maintenance burden, such as the manual gunsight and the gyros that drive the attitude and heading indicators, is being replaced.

French avionics manufacturer Sextant is supplying its Totem inertial navigation system (INS) with embedded global positioning system (GPS), and a wide-angle head-up display (HUD). An instrument landing/VOR navigation system has also been added.

Vaerten says a new upfront control panel will manage the HUD and INS/GPS, and be used for stores management. An 8mm video camera replaces the wet film camera used for debriefing.

Belgian aerospace company SABCA - part owned by Alpha Jet manufacturer Dassault - is prime contractor on the programme, responsible for integration of the new systems, conversion of the first aircraft and flight testing. The air force will modify the bulk of the fleet. Vaerten was expecting to fly the first modified Alpha Jet on 29 October or in early November.

Source: Flight International