H211 LLC, a Google executives-controlled company that operates jetcraft for Google executives, recently acquired a Dassault/Dornier Alpha fighter/training jet.
According to the New York Times, H211, a company that operates and maintains aircraft for Google executives, including founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin and CEO Eric Schmidt, known as H211, LLC has added a Dornier Alpha Jet to its fleet. The small fighter jet was produced in a collaboration between Dassault, Breguet and Dornier, and was manufactured from 1973 to 1984 (Google’s model comes from 1982). While used primarily as a training jet, the Alpha has seen action as a light attack fighter with French, German, and Thai military forces.
So why buy a fighter plane ? Beyond the obvious reason (owning a fighter jet is awesome) H211, which has no ties to Google regarding direct ownership or funding, plans to use the jet with NASA. The Alpha is now outfitted with NASA-specific scientific instruments for various missions, some of which cannot be done by more conventional passenger jets. “Because of the type of aircraft we are talking about, NASA now has the ability to do even more than they could before,” said Matt Furman, a Google spokesman.
After the NYT filed a Freedom of Information Act claim with NASA, the aerospace division went more in depth on its relation with H211. “The agreement was amended to support a recent science mission — observation of the re-entry of the European Space Agency’s “Jules Verne” Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV). Additional amendments are in progress in regards to the Alpha jet.” said NASA spokeswoman Dolores Beasley. The video footage captured by the Jules Verne re-entry, which happened in late September, was presumably the Alphas first mission.
Along with the Alpha fighter, H211 also owns, operates and maintains a Boeing 757, Boeing 767, and two Gulfstream V’s. All of the planes operate out of Moffett Field, a NASA-owned airfield very close to Google’s Mountain View "Googleplex" campus. While CEO Eric Schmidt is known to be an avid pilot, it is unknown who sits in the Alpha’s cockpit.
Hopefully, the Alpha acquisition will not spark another cold war, but recent reports indicate that Microsoft is looking into purchasing several F-22s from the U.S. Air Force.