The Info List - French Air Force

World War I (French: Première Guerre mondiale) World War II (French: Seconde Guerre mondiale) Indochina War (French: Guerre d'Indochine) Algerian War (French: Guerre d'Algérie) Chadian–Libyan conflict (French: Conflit tchado-libyen) Gulf War (French: Guerre du Golfe) Kosovo War (French: Guerre du Kosovo) War on Terror

War in Afghanistan
(2001–2014) (French: Guerre d' Afghanistan

Opération Harmattan (French: Opération Harmattan) Occidental-Arab Coalition (French: Coalition Arabo-Occidentale)

Website www.defense.gouv.fr/air


Chief of Staff of the French Air Force Général d'armée aérienne André Lanata, since September 21, 2015


Identification symbol

The French Air Force
Air Force
(Armée de l'Air Française) [aʀme də lɛʀ], literally Aerial Army) is the Air Force
Air Force
Arm of the French Armed Forces. It was formed in 1909 as the Service Aéronautique, a service arm of the French Army, then was made an independent military arm in 1934. The number of aircraft in service with the French Air Force varies depending on source, however sources from the French Ministry of Defence give a figure of 658 aircraft in 2014.[4][5] The French Air Force has 241 combat aircraft in service, with the majority being 133 Dassault Mirage 2000
Dassault Mirage 2000
and 108 Dassault Rafale. As of early 2017, the French Air Force
Air Force
employs a total of 41,160 regular personnel. The reserve element of the air force consisted of 5,187 personnel of the Operational Reserve.[6] The Chief of Staff of the French Air Force
Chief of Staff of the French Air Force
(CEMAA) is a direct subordinate of the Chief of the Defence Staff (CEMA).

French Armed Forces


French Air Force French Army French Navy Gendarmerie National Guard


Ranks in the French Army Ranks in the French Navy Ranks in the French Air Force


Military history of France La Grande Armée

v t e


1 History

1.1 World War I

1.1.1 Interwar period 1.1.2 World War II 1.1.3 1945–present

2 Structure

2.1 Commands 2.2 Support services 2.3 Wings 2.4 Squadrons

2.4.1 Flights

2.5 Fusiliers Commandos de l'Air

3 Airbases

3.1 Northern region 3.2 Southern Region 3.3 Overseas

4 Aircraft inventory 5 Personnel

5.1 Training of personnel

6 Ranks 7 See also 8 References

8.1 Notes

9 Further reading 10 External links

History[edit] French military aviation was born in 1909. After voting the law in the French National Assembly on March 29, 1912,[7] French Military Aeronautics became officially part of the French Army, alongside the four traditional branches of the French Army, the infantry, cavalry, artillery and engineers. World War I[edit] Main articles: History of the Armée de l'Air (1909–42)
History of the Armée de l'Air (1909–42)
and History of the Armée de l'Air (colonial presence 1939–62)

French aircraft during World War I, flying over German held territory, 1915.

was one of the first states to start building aircraft. At the beginning of First World War, France
had a total of 148 planes (8 from French Naval Aviation
French Naval Aviation
(Aéronautique navale) and 15 Airships. By the time of the armistice in November 1918, 3608 planes were in service.[8] 5,500 pilots and observers were killed from the 17,300 engaged in the conflict, amounting then to 31% of endured losses[9] Military Aeronautics was established as a "special arm" by the law of December 8, 1922.[10] however, the later remained under the auspicious of the French Army. It wasn't until July 2, 1934, that the "special arm" became an independent service and was totally independent. Interwar period[edit] The first French airshow "In Patrol" (French: En Patrouille) took place in 1931. The initial air arm was also the cradle of French military parachuting, responsible for the first formation of the « Air Infantry
Groups » (French: Groupements de l'Infanterie de l'Air) in the 1930s, out of which the Air Parachute Commandos (French: commandos parachutistes de l'air) descend from directly. The French Air Force
Air Force
maintained a continuous presence across the Empire particularly from the 1920s to 1943. World War II[edit] Main articles: Vichy French Air Force
Air Force
and Free French Air Force The French Air Force
Air Force
played an important role, most notable during the Battle of France
of 1940. The engagement of free French aviators (FAFL) from 1940 to 1943, then the engagement of the aviators of the French Liberation Army, were equally marking episodes of the History of the French Air Force. The sacrifices of commandant René Mouchotte (French: René Mouchotte) or, more unanimously, lieutenant Marcel Beau (French: Marcel Beau) illustrated the devotion of this army. The Vichy French Air Force
Air Force
(French: Armée de l'air de Vichy) had a significant presence in the French Levant while the Free French Air Force also took part since the early beginnings of World War II
World War II
in 1940. 1945–present[edit]

A North American T-28 Trojan, used against guerrillas during the Algerian War.

After 1945, France
rebuilt its aircraft industry. The French Air Force participated in several colonial wars during the Empire such as French Indochina after the Second World War. Since 1945, the French Air Force was notably engaged in Indochina (1945–1954). The French Air Force
Air Force
was also active in Algeria from 1952 until 1962 and Suez (1956), then later Mauritania
and Chad, the Persian Gulf (1990–1991), ex-Yugoslavia and more recently in Afghanistan, Mali and Iraq. From 1964 until 1971 the French Air Force
Air Force
had the unique responsibility for the French nuclear arm via Dassault Mirage IV
Dassault Mirage IV
or ballistic missiles of Air Base 200 Apt-Saint-Christol on the Plateau d'Albion.

Mirage IIIC of EC 2/10 "Seine" pictured in 1980 armed with a Matra R.530.

Accordingly, from 1962, the French political leadership reprioritized its military emphasis on nuclear deterrence, implementing a complete reorganisation of the Air Force, with the creation of four air regions and seven major specialised commands, among which were the Strategic Air Forces Command, COTAM, CAFDA (air defence), and the Force aérienne tactique (FATac).[11] In 1964 the Second Tactical Air Command was created at Nancy
to take command of air units stationed in France
but not assigned to NATO. The Military Air Transport Command had previously been formed in February 1962 from the Groupement d'Unités Aériennes Spécialisées. Also created in 1964 was the Escadron des Fusiliers Commandos de l'Air
Fusiliers Commandos de l'Air
(EFCA), seemingly grouping all FCA units. The Dassault Mirage IV, the principal French strategic bomber, was designed to strike Soviet positions as part of the French nuclear triad. In 1985, the Air Force
Air Force
had four major flying commands, the Strategic Air Forces Command, the Tactical Air Forces Command, the Military Air Transport Command, and the Air Command of Aerial Defense Forces (French: Commandement Air des Forces de Défense Aérienne).[12]

A 1986 view of a Mirage F1 of Escadron de Chasse 2/30 Normandie-Niemen and another Mirage of Escadron de Chasse 3/30 Lorraine, armed with Matra R530. Both respective squadron insignias are visible on the aircraft.

CFAS had two squadrons of S2 and S-3 IRBMs at the Plateau d'Albion, six squadrons of Mirage IVAs (at Mont de Marsan, Cazaux, Orange, Istres, St Dizier, and EB 3/94 at Luxeuil), and three squadrons of C-135F, as well as a training/reconnaissance unit, CIFAS 328, at Bordeaux. The tactical air command included wings EC 3, EC 4, EC 7, EC 11, EC 13, and ER 33, with a total of 19 squadrons of Mirage III, Jaguars, two squadrons flying the Mirage 5F (EC 2/13 and EC 3/13, both at Colmar), and a squadron flying the Mirage F.1CR. CoTAM counted 28 squadrons, of which ten were fixed-wing transport squadrons, and the remainder helicopter and liaison squadrons, at least five of which were overseas. CAFDA numbered 14 squadrons mostly flying the Mirage F.1C. Two other commands had flying units, the Air Force
Air Force
Schools Command (CEAA), and the Air Force
Air Force
Transmissions Command, with four squadrons and three trials units. Dassault Aviation
Dassault Aviation
led the way mainly with delta-wing designs, which formed the basis for the Dassault Mirage III
Dassault Mirage III
series of fighter jets. The Mirage demonstrated its abilities in the Six-Day War, Yom Kippur War, the Falklands War, and the Gulf War, becoming one of the most popular jet fighters of its day, selling very widely. In 1994 the Commandment of the Fusiliers Commandos de l'Air
Fusiliers Commandos de l'Air
was reestablished under a different form.

Logo until 2010.

The French Air Force
Air Force
is expanding and replacing its aircraft inventory. The Air Force
Air Force
is awaiting the Airbus A400M
Airbus A400M
military transport aircraft, which is still in development. As of late November 2016, 11 A400M aircraft had been delivered to ET00.061 at Orleans-Bricy, and integration of the new Dassault Rafale
Dassault Rafale
multi-role jet fighter was underway, whose first squadron of 20 aircraft became operational in 2006 at Saint-Dizier. In 2009 France
rejoined the NATO
Military Command Structure, having been absent since 1966.[13] France
was also a lead nation, alongside the United States, Great Britain
Great Britain
and Italy
in implementing the UN sponsored no-fly zone in Libya ( NATO
Operation Unified Protector), deploying 20 fighter aircraft to Benghazi in defense of rebel held positions and the civilian population.[14] The last remaining squadron of Dassault Mirage F1s were retired in July 2014 and replaced by the Dassault Rafale. Structure[edit]

Général d'armée aérienne André Lanata, chief of staff of the Armée de l'Air.

The Chief of Staff of the French Air Force
Chief of Staff of the French Air Force
(CEMAA) determines French Air Force
Air Force
doctrines application and advises the Chief of the Defence Staff (CEMA) on the deployment, manner, and use of the Air Force. He is responsible for the preparation and logistic support of the French Air Force. The CEMAA is assisted by a Deputy Chief, the Major Général de de l'Armée de l'Air. Finally, the CEMAA is assisted by the Inspectorate of the French Air Force
Air Force
(IAA) and by the French Air Force Health Service Inspection (ISSAA). The Air Force
Air Force
is organized in conformity to Chapter 4/ Title II/ Book II of the Third Part of the Defense Code (French: code de la Défense), which replaced decree n° 91-672 of July 14, 1991. Under the authority of the Chief of Staff of the French Air Force (CEMAA) in Paris, the Air Force
Air Force

Chief of Staff of the French Air Force, heading the Etat-major de l'Armee de l'air (EMAA) ; Forces; Air Bases; Directorate of Human Resources of the French Air Force; Services.[15]

Air Force
Air Force
headquarters is co-located, alongside the Chief of the Defence Staff's offices (EMA) as well with Army and Navy headquarters at the Ballard site, more commonly known as the « French Pentagon » or « Balardgone ». It numbers 150 aviators. The new site succeeds the former Paris
Air Base (BA 117), the air staff headquarters buildings, dissolved on June 25, 2015. Commands[edit] The French Air Force
Air Force
has three commands: two grand operational commands (CDAOA and CFAS) and one organic command (CFA)).

Air Defense and Air Operations Command (French: Commandement de la Défense Aérienne et des Opérations Aériennes (CDAOA)), is responsible for surveillance of French airspace, as well as all aerial operations in progress. This command does not possess aircraft. Instead it exercises operational control over units of the Air Forces Command. Strategic Air Forces Command
Strategic Air Forces Command
(CFAS)), is responsible for the air force's nuclear assets (Mirage 2000 N (French: Mirage 2000N) and Rafale
armed with missile ASMPA), as well as the tanker / strategic transport aircraft (C-135FR, Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker). Air Forces Command (French: Commandement des Forces Aériennes (CFA)), Bordeaux-Mérignac Air Base, as an organic command, prepares units to fulfill operational missions. Since September 2013, the former organic commands CFA and CSFA were merged into CFA. CFA is organized in six brigades :

Fighter Brigade – (French: Brigade Aérienne de l'Aviation de Chasse (BAAC)), is responsible for all air defense, air-to-ground and reconnaissance aircraft (including Dassault Rafale, Mirage 2000-5F, Mirage 2000B/C/D, Transall C-160
Transall C-160
Gabriel). In February 2016 it was commanded by Brigadier General (Air) Philippe Lavigne.[16] Projection and Support Air Force
Air Force
Brigade (French: Brigade Aérienne d'Appui et de Projection (BAAP)), is responsible for all tactical transport and liaison aircraft (aircraft and helicopters: Transall, C-160, Hercules C-130, A310/319, Dassault Falcon 50/900, Aérospatiale SA 330 Puma, Eurocopter Fennec, Eurocopter AS332 Super Puma, SOCATA TBM); Airspace Control Brigade (French: Brigade Aérienne de Contrôle de l'Espace (BACE)), is responsible for (Airborne early warning and control aircraft, and ground radar, ground-based air defense systems and missile defence, communication networks) airspace surveillance, constituting the Command and Executive System of Airspace Operations (French: Système de Commandement et de Conduite des Opérations Aérospatiales). Since 2007 the command, control and information systems network of the air force have been is integrated into the Joint Directorate of Infrastructure Networks and Information Systems (DIRISI)). Air Force
Air Force
Security and Intervention Forces Brigade (French: Brigade Aérienne des Forces de Sécurité et d'Intervention (BAFSI)), is responsible for units of the French Air Force's commando riflemen (Fusiliers Commandos de l'Air, tasked with special operations, CSAR and target acquisition), amongst which the most elite is the Air Force Parachute Commando n° 10, C.P.A 10 (, unit of the French Special Forces. The BAFSI also includes the security units of the air bases (34 squadrons (of company strength) and detachments (of platoon strength)) and the rescue and firefighting personnel (called incident technicians and grouped into squadrons of company size); Air Force
Air Force
Aerial Weapon Systems Brigade (French: Brigade Aérienne des Systèmes d'Armes Aériens (BASAA)) provides the maintenance and repair of aerial weapons and target systems. Air Force
Air Force
Maneuver Support Brigade (French: Brigade Aérienne d'Appui à la Manœuvre Aérienne (BAAMA)) provides the ground-based engineer and logistics personnel (including expeditionary) needed for the sustainment of air operations.

These last two brigades belonged until 2013 to the Air Force
Air Force
Support Command (CSFA), which maintained the arms systems, equipment, information and communication systems (SIC) as well as infrastructure; the CSFA supported the human element, the military logistics (supply and transport), wherever forces of the French Air Force
Air Force
operated or trained; these two brigades are now subordinated to the CFA. All air regions were disestablished on 1 January 2008. In the 1960s, there were five air regions (RA). The number was then reduced to four by a decree of June 30, 1962 with the disestablishment of the 5th Aerial Region (French North Africa). The decree of July 14, 1991 reduced the air regions to three: « RA Atlantic », « RA Mediterranean » and «  RA North-East ». On July 1, 2000 was placed into effect an organization consisting of « RA North » (RAN) and « RA South » (RAS). The territorial division was abolished by decree n°2007-601 of April 26, 2007[17] · .[18] From 2008–2010 the French Air Force
Air Force
underwent the "Air 2010" streamlining process. The main targets of this project were to simplify the command structure, to regroup all military and civil air force functions and to rationalise and optimise all air force units. Five major commands, were formed, instead of the former 13, and several commands and units were disbanded.[19] The Air Force
Air Force
directs the Joint Space Command. Support services[edit] The Directorate of Human Resources of the Air Force
Air Force
(DRH-AA) recruits, forms, manages administers and converts personnel of the French Air Force. Since January 2008, the DRH-AA groups the former directorate of military personnel of the French Air Force
Air Force
(DPMMA) and some tasks of the former Commandment des ecoles de l'Armee de l'Air (CEAA). The directorate is responsible for Air Force
Air Force
recruitment via the recruiting bureau. French joint defence service organisations, supporting the air force, include:[15]

The Integrated Structure of Maintaining Operational Conditioning of Aeronautical Defense Materials (French: Structure Intégrée de Maintien en Condition Opérationnelle des Matériels Aéronautiques de la Défense) (SIMMAD). The French Aeronautical Industrial Service (French: Service Industriel de l'Aéronautique) (SIAE). The « Air Commissariat » (French: «  Commissariat de l'Air ») between 1947 and 2007, then « Financial and General Administration Service » (French: « Service de l'Administration Générale et des Finances » (SAGF)) from 2008 until 2009, and finally the «  Commissariat Service of the Armed Forces » (SCA) (French: Service du Commissariat des Armées) since 2010, have successively been designated as administrative services of the French Air Force. The Commissioners as well as Civilians of this service carry out : operations support, individual legal rights, judicial, internal control accountability, financial and purchase executions, and support and protection of the combatant.[20]

Wings[edit] Commanded by a Lieutenant-colonel or Colonel, the Escadre is a formation that assembles various units and personnel dedicated to the same mission. The designation of « Escadre » was replaced with that of regiment in 1932 and was designated until 1994, a unit grouping :

units (escadrons or groups) generally equipped with the same type of aircraft or at least assuring the same type of mission units of maintenance and support.

Escadres (wings) were dissolved from 1993 as part of the Armées 2000 reorganisation, were reestablished in 2014.[21] The problems caused by having the aircraft maintenance units not responsible to the flying squadrons they supported eventually forced the change. Four Escadres (French: Escadres) were reformed in the first phase:[21]

31e Escadre Aérienne de Ravitaillement et de Transport Stratégiques at Istres-Le Tubé Air Base
Istres-Le Tubé Air Base
on 27 August 2014; 36e Escadre de Commandement et de Conduite Aéroportée at Avord Air Base on 5 September 2014; Escadre Sol-Air de Défense Aérienne – 1er Régiment d'Artillerie de l'Air (ESADA – 1er RAA) at Avord Air Base
Avord Air Base
(3 September 2014) ; the 3e Escadre de Chasse
3e Escadre de Chasse
at Nancy-Ochey Air Base
Nancy-Ochey Air Base
(5 September 2014)

In the second phase, the French Air Force
Air Force
announced in August 2015 the creation of seven additional wings :[21]

the 8e Escadre de Chasse
8e Escadre de Chasse
at Cazaux Air Base
Cazaux Air Base
(25 August 2015) ; the 4e Escadre de Chasse
4e Escadre de Chasse
(French: 4e Escadre de Chasse) for 26 August 2015; the 64e Escadre de Transport (French: 64e Escadre de Transport) at Évreux-Fauville Air Base
Évreux-Fauville Air Base
(27 August 2015) ; the Escadre Aérienne de Commandement et de Conduite Projetable (French: Escadre Aérienne de Commandement et de Conduite Projetable) at Évreux-Fauville Air Base
Évreux-Fauville Air Base
(27 August 2015) ; the 61e Escadre de Transprot (French: 61e Escadre de Transport) at Orléans – Bricy Air Base
Orléans – Bricy Air Base
(1 septembre 2015) ; the 2e Escadre de Chasse
2e Escadre de Chasse
(French: 2e Escadre de Chasse) at Luxeuil
Air Base (3 September 2015) ; and the 30e Escadre de Chasse
30e Escadre de Chasse
(French: 30e Escadre de Chasse) at Mont-de-Marsan Air Base
Mont-de-Marsan Air Base
(3 September 2015).

The French Air Force
Air Force
also announced in August 2015 that unit numbering, moves of affected aircraft, and the transfer of historic material (flags, traditions and names) would be completed in 2016.[21] Squadrons[edit] Commanded by a lieutenant-colonel, the Escadron is the basic operational unit. This term replaced that of Group as of 1949 with the aim to standardize usage with the allies of NATO
who were using the term 'squadron'. However, the term Group did not entirely disappear: the term was retained for the Aerial Group 56 Mix Vaucluse, specialized in Special
Operations or Group – Groupe de Ravitaillement en Vol 02.091 Bretagne (French: Groupe de Ravitaillement en Vol 02.091 Bretagne) which is still carrying the same designation since 2004.[22] A fighter squadron (escadron) can number some twenty machines, spread in general in three Escadrilles. A Transport Escadron (French: Escadron de Transport) can theoretically count a dozen Transall C-160, however, numbers are usually much less for heavier aircraft (three Airbus A310-300 and two Airbus A340-200 for the Transport Escadron 3/60 Estérel (French: Escadron de Transport 3/60 Estérel)). The squadrons have retained the designations of the former Escadres disbanded during in the 1990s. For instance: Transport Escadron 1/64 Béarn (French: escadron de transport 1/64 Béarn) (more specifically Transport Escadron 01.064 Béarn), which belonged to the 64th Transport Escadre (French: 64e Escadre de Transport) during the dissolution of the later (recreated on August 2015). Not all Escadrons (Squadrons) are necessarily attached to an Escadre; however, each Escadron (Squadron) is attached to the particular respective command. Flights[edit] The Escadrille (flight) has both an administrative and operational function, even of the essential operational control is done at the level of the Esacdron. A pilot is assigned to the Escadrille, however the equipment and material devices, on the other hand, are assigned to the Escadron. Since the putting into effect of the ESTA (Aeronautic Technical Support Escadrons), material devices and the mechanics are assigned directly to the base then put at disposition of the based Escadrons. The Escadrilles adopted the traditions of the prestigious units out of which most (SPA and SAL),[23] are those traditions of the First World War. Fusiliers Commandos de l'Air[edit] The Fusiliers Commandos de l'Air
Fusiliers Commandos de l'Air

Protection squadrons (French: escadron de protection) (EP); Commando Parachutiste de l’Air 10 (CPA 10), Air Parachute Commando 20, Air Parachute Commando 30 (CPA 30)

Protection Squadrons protect airbases inside and outside the national territory, and in exterior operations as well. The CPAs carry out common missions, as well as specialized tasks; including intervention and reinforcement of protection at the profit of sensible points « air » inside and outside the national territory. Airbases[edit] Main article: List of French Air Force
Air Force

Air bases in Metropolitan France.

AirFlying activity in France
is carried out by a network of bases, platforms and French air defence radar systems. It is supported by bases, which are supervised and maintained by staff, centres of operations, warehouses, workshops, and schools. Both in France
and abroad, bases have similar infrastructure to provide standardised support. The French Air Force
Air Force
has, as of August 1, 2014:

Within the metropolitan territory of France, 27 airbases, out of the which 18 aeronautical platform with perceived runways and 5 Bases non platform, two schools, 3 air detachments and « one attached air element » (EAR). Beyond the metropole/Europe, 7 Aerial Bases or permanent detachments in overseas or country.

Crotale missile-launchers of the Air Defense Ground-to-Air Squadron of the French Air Force.

Some French air bases house radar units (eg Lyon, Mont-Verdun, Drachenbronn, Cinq-Mars-la-Pile, Nice, Mont-Agel) to carry out air defence radar surveillance and air traffic control. Others house material warehouses or command posts. Temprary and semi-permanent foreign deployments include transport aircraft at Dushanbe (Tajikistan, Operation Héraclès), and fighter aircraft in N'Djamena (Tchad, Opération Épervier), for instance. As swift as the French Air Force
Air Force
operates, the closure of Aerial Bases is more constant and immediate, having known a strong acceleration since the 1950s. An airbase commander has authority over all units stationed on his base. Depending on the units tasks this means that he is responsible for approximately 600 to 2500 personnel. On average, a base, made up of about 1500 personnel (nearly 3500 people including family), provides a yearly economic boost to its area of about 60 million euros. Consequently, determining the sites for air bases constitutes a major part of regional planning.[25] Northern region[edit]

CABA 117 Paris, air force headquarters until 2015.

BA 105 Évreux-Fauville Air Base. Command, operational and logistic support. Air transport units with 27× CASA CN-235M and 21× Transall C-160 NG. Vélizy – Villacoublay Air Base
Vélizy – Villacoublay Air Base
(BA 107). Helicopter
and heavy air transport units. Saint-Dizier
– Robinson Air Base (BA 113) 4e Escadre de Chasse, Escadron de Chasse 01-007 "Provence"
Escadron de Chasse 01-007 "Provence"
with the new Dassault Rafale
Dassault Rafale
C, and EC 1/4 "Gascogne", a conventional/nuclear strike squadron with Dassault Rafale
Dassault Rafale
B. Luxeuil
Air Base (BA 116). Air defence fighter base with 28× Mirage 2000-5F. Orléans – Bricy Air Base
Orléans – Bricy Air Base
(BA 123). Air transport units with 13× A400M Atlas
A400M Atlas
and 15× C-130 Hercules. CFPSAA operational command. Nancy
- Ochey Air Base (BA 133). Three strike fighter squadrons units with 68× Mirage 2000D,[26] SAM sqns. Châteaudun Air Base
Châteaudun Air Base
(BA 279). Airplane maintenance, repair and storage airbase. Avord Air Base
Avord Air Base
(BA 702). CFAS nuclear strike stockpile. AWACS 4× E-3F Sentry unit. Inflight refueling C-135FR unit. BA 705 Tours
airbase. Fighter pilot training school equipped with Alpha Jet. DA 273 Romorantin air detachment. Logistic unit.

Southern Region[edit]

Air Base 106 Bordeaux-Mérignac Airport. Transport support base for the air staff. Air Base 115 Orange-Caritat. Air defence escadron de chasse 02.005 Île-de- France
equipped with 10× Mirage 2000C
Mirage 2000C
and transition squadron equipped with six Dassault Mirage 2000B. Air Base 118 Mont-de-Marsan Air Base. The base is home to two squadrons Rafale
B and Rafale
C. Home of CEAM, the Air Force
Air Force
military experimentation and trials organisation, Air defence radar command reporting centre, instruction centre for air defence control. Air Base 120 Cazaux, situated South-west of the port city of Bordeaux. Fighter pilot training squadron equipped with Alpha Jet. Air force airplane stockpile. Air Base 125 Istres. Conventional/nuclear strike squadron, EC02.004 Lafayette equipped with 21× Mirage 2000N
Mirage 2000N
– will be transition to Rafale
B by September 2018. Two Transall C-160
Transall C-160
G strategic communication flight. Inflight refueling unit with 14× C-135FR. CEAM – the Air Force
Air Force
military test centre. Air Base 126 Solenzara. Fighter gunnery range. SAR unit. Varennes-sur-Allier
(DA 277) Air Force
Air Force
supply depot. DA 277 was dissolved on June 30, 2015. Air Base 278 Ambérieu. Logistic support base. BA 701 Salon de Provence. Officer instruction school. Enlisted instruction school. Air Base 709 Cognac-Châteaubernard. Basic flight training school equipped with 33× Socata TB-30 Epsilon. Air Base 721 Rochefort. Home of the NCO school, the École de formation des sous-officiers de l'armée de l'air. Air Base 942 Lyon-Mont Verdun. Air defence radar command reporting centre. National Air Operations Command (CNOA) location. EAR 943 Nice Mont-Agel. Air defence radar GM 406. DA 204 Bordeaux-Beauséjour air detachment. Logistic unit. EETAA 722 Saintes. Air force
Air force
electronic, technical instruction also as Military basic Bootcamp. EPA 749 Grenoble. Air force
Air force
child support school.


A E-3F flanked by 5 Mirage 2000 during the military parade of July 14, 2006.

BA 160 Dakar, Senegal. Mixed units. Escadron de transport 50, fr:Détachement air 181 La Réunion, Réunion, Indian Ocean. BA 188 Djibouti, Africa. Mixed units. Air elements Libreville/Gabon. Air elements N’Djamena/Chad. Mixed units. BA 190 French Polynesia
French Polynesia
(Overseas collectivity). Mixed unit. BA 365 Martinique
(French department), West Indies. Mixed unit. BA 367 French Guiana
French Guiana
(French department), South America. Mixed units. BA 376 fr:Base aérienne 186 Nouméa, New Caledonia
New Caledonia
(special collectivity of France) BA 104 Abu Dhabi

More than ten bases have been closed since 2009. Doullens Air Base (BA 922) was a former command and reporting centre; Toulouse - Francazal Air Base (BA 101), was closed on Sept. 1, 2009; Colmar-Meyenheim Air Base (BA 132) was closed on June 16, 2010; Metz-Frescaty Air Base
Metz-Frescaty Air Base
(BA 128) was closed on June 30, 2011; Brétigny-sur-Orge_Air_Base (BA 217), closed June 26, 2012; Cambrai-Epinoy Air Base, was closed on June 28, 2012; Reims – Champagne Air Base
Reims – Champagne Air Base
(June 2012); Drachenbronn Air Base (BA 901) closed on July 17, 2015; Dijon Air Base
Dijon Air Base
(BA 102), was vacated on June 30, 2016;[27] Creil Air Base (BA 110) vacated on August 31, 2016; and Taverny Air Base (DA 921), the former Strategic Air Forces Command headquarters. Aircraft inventory[edit] Aircraft of the French Air Force
Air Force

Type Origin Class Role Introduced In service Total Notes

Aérospatiale SA330 Puma France Rotorcraft Transport 1968 26


Airbus A310 France Jet Transport 1993 3 3 [28]

Airbus A340 France Jet Transport 2006 2 2 [2]

Airbus A400M
Airbus A400M
Atlas EU Propeller Transport 2014 14[29] 14 36 more on order.[2]

Boeing E-3F Sentry USA Jet AEW&C 1990 4 4 [28]

Boeing C-135FR USA Jet Tanker 1964 14 14 [28]

CASA CN235M-200/300 Spain Propeller Transport 2012 27 27 [28]

Dassault/Dornier Alpha Jet France Jet Trainer 1978 84 92 [2]

Dassault Falcon 7X France Jet Transport

2 2 [2]

Dassault Falcon 900 France Jet Transport

2 2 [2]

Dassault Falcon 2000 France Jet Transport

2 2 [2]

Dassault Mirage 2000B France Jet Trainer 2000 6 30 [2]

Dassault Mirage 2000C/2000-5F France Jet Fighter 1983 38 161 [2]

Dassault Mirage 2000N/2000D France Jet Attack 1988 89 161 [28]

Dassault Rafale
Dassault Rafale
B/C France Jet Multi-role 2006 108 108 [30][31][32]

DHC-6 Twin Otter Canada Propeller Transport 1976 5


Diamond HK36 Super Dimona Austria Propeller Trainer

5 5

Embraer EMB 121 Xingu Brazil Propeller Trainer



Eurocopter AS532 Cougar France Rotorcraft Utility


Eurocopter AS555 Fennec France Rotorcraft Trainer



Eurocopter EC725
Eurocopter EC725
Caracal France Rotorcraft SAR



Extra EA-300 Germany Propeller Utility

3 3

General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper USA UAV ISR 2013 6 6 10 more on order[2][33]

Jodel D.140 Mousquetaire France Propeller Trainer 1966 17

Lockheed C-130 Hercules USA Propeller Transport

15 15 [28][34]

Pilatus PC-21 Switzerland Propeller Trainer 2018 . . 17 on order[35][36]

Socata TB 30 Epsilon France Propeller Trainer



Socata TBM 700 France Propeller Transport 1990 15


Transall C-160 France Propeller Transport/ELINT 1968 23


Beechcraft Super King Air 350 USA Propeller ISR 2018 3



Fusiliers Commandos de l'Air
Fusiliers Commandos de l'Air
at the opening of a war memorial.

Since the end of the Algerian War, the percentage of formations of the French Air Force
Air Force
in the comparison with the ensemble of the Armies corresponded to 17 to 19%.[38] In 1990, at the end of the Cold War, numbers reached 56,400 military personnel under contract, out of which 36,300 were part of conscription and 5,400 civilians.[39] In 2008, forecasts for personnel of the French Air Force
Air Force
were expected to number 50,000 out of which 44,000 aviators on the horizon in 2014. In 2010, the number personnel of the French Air Force
Air Force
was reduced to 51100 men and women (20%) out of which: 13% officers; 55% sous-officier; 29% air military technicians (MTA); 3% volunteers of national service and aspirant volunteers; 6500 civilians (14%). They form several functions:

Non-Flying Personnel

Non-navigating personnel of the French Air Force
Air Force
include and are not limited to : Systems Aerial Mechanics (French: mécanicien système aéronautique), Aerial Controllers (French: contrôleur aérien), Meteorologists (French: météorologue), Administrative Personnel, Air Parachute Commandos (French: Commandos parachutistes de l'air), in Informatics, in Infrastructures, in Intelligence, Commissioner of the Armies (French: Commissaire) (Administrator Task).

Flying Personnel

Pilots, Mechanical Navigating Officer (French: Mécanicien Navigant), Navigating Arms Systems Officer (French: Navigateur Officier Système d'Armes) (NOSA), Combat Air Medic (French: Convoyeur de l'Air) (CVA).

Aviator badge
Aviator badge
of a Combat Air Medic of the French Air Force
Air Force

Training of personnel[edit]

Students of the École de l'air
École de l'air
(Air School) during the military parade of July 14th in 2007 on the Champs-Élysées.

Officers, within their recruitment and future specialty, are trained at:

École de l'air
École de l'air
(French: École de l'air) (Air School) de Provence; École Militaire de l'Air (French: École militaire de l'air) (Military Air School); École des commissaires des armées (French: École des commissaires des armées) (Commissioners Armies School); École de pilotage de l'Armée de l'air (French: École de pilotage de l'Armée de l'air) (Piloting School of the French Air Force); École de l'aviation de transport (French: École de l'aviation de transport) (Aviation Transport School); École de l'aviation de chasse (French: École de l'aviation de chasse) (Aviation Hunter Fighter Pilot School); École de transition opérationnelle (French: École de transition opérationnelle) (Operational Transition School).

Officers of the French Air Force
Air Force
are spread in three corps:

Air Officer (French: Officiers de l'air); Officer Mechanics (French: Officiers Mécaniciens); Aerial Base Officer (French: officiers des bases de l'air), amongst which, officers of the Air Parachute Commandos (French: Commandos parachutistes de l'air) are featured.

Sous-Officiers are formed at:

École de formation des sous-officiers de l'Armée de l'air (French: École de formation des sous-officiers de l'Armée de l'air) (EFSOAA) de Rochefort; École interarmées (French: École interarmées) (Inter-arm School) for administrative specialists; Escadron de formation des commandos de l'air (French: Escadron de formation des commandos de l'air) (EFCA) of Aerial Base 115 Orange-Caritat (French: Orange-Caritat) for concerned specialists;

Military Air Technicians (French: militaires techniciens de l’air) having been trained until July 1, 2015 at the Center of Elementary Military Formation (French: « Centre de formation militaire élémentaire ») of the Technical Instruction School of the French Air Force
Air Force
(French: École d'enseignement technique de l'Armée de l'air) of Saintes. Since July 1, 2015, training has taken place at Orange-Caritat Air Base
Orange-Caritat Air Base
(BA 115), within the « Operational Combatant Preparation Center of the Air Force » (French: Centre de préparation opérationnelle du combattant de l'Armée de l'air). Air traffic controllers are trained at the Center of Control Instruction and Aerial Defense (French: Centre d'Instruction du Contrôle et de la Défense Aérienne). Ranks[edit] Main article: Ranks in the French Air Force


code OF-10 OF-9 OF-8 OF-7 OF-6 OF-5 OF-4 OF-3 OF-2 OF-1 OF(D) Student officer

 France (Edit) No equivalent

Général d´armée aérienne Général de corps aérien Général de division aérienne Général de brigade aérienne Colonel Lieutenant-Colonel Commandant Capitaine Lieutenant Sous-Lieutenant Aspirant Élève-officier


Aspirant élève de l' École de l'air
École de l'air
(EA) (Officer candidate, air force academy) 

Aspirant élève de l'École militaire de l'air (EMA) (Officer candidate, military flight school) 

Élève officier de l' École de l'air
École de l'air
(EA) (Officer cadet, air force academy) 

Elève officier du personnel navigant (EOPN) (Navigation officer cadet) 


Code OR-9 OR-8 OR-7 OR-6 OR-5 OR-4 OR-3 OR-2 OR-1

France (Edit)

No equivalent

Major Adjudant-chef Adjudant Sergent-chef Sergent Caporal-chef Caporal Aviateur 1e classe Aviateur 2e classe

See also[edit]


List of Escadres of the French Air Force List of active Squadrons of the French Air Force List of dissolved Squadrons of the French Air Force List of French Air Force
Air Force
aircraft squadrons French Naval Aviation

References[edit] Notes[edit]

^ a b http://www.defense.gouv.fr/content/download/511454/8625925/Les%20chiffres%20cle%CC%81s%20de%20la%20D%C3%A9fense%20%C3%A9dition%202017%20EN.pdf ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "Defence Key Figures: 2016 Edition". Defense.gouv.fr.  (download PDF file or see HTML version Archived 6 September 2015 at the Wayback Machine.) ^ Faire face (French is an action or behavior of being straight forward and being honest, truthful and correct regardless the environment). ^ "Annuaire statistique de la défense 2013–2014" 10 July 2014 (in French) ^ "Annuaire statistiques de la défense 2012–2013" 4 June 2013 (in French) ^ "Key defence figures 2014" (PDF) (in French). Defense.gouv.fr. Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 December 2014.  () ^ [1], Law of March 29, 1912 organizing the Military Aeronautics, published in Journale Officiel of March 31, 1912, Editor BNF-Gallica, gallica.bnf.fr ^ History of light aviation of the French Army
French Army
1794–2008, Lavauzelle, Collection of History, Memory and Patrimony, Général André Martini, 2005, Paris, pages 36,42, ISBN 2-7025-1277-1 ^ [2], Hydroplanes Georges Lévy, Gérard Hartmann, 2011, The Schneider cup and veteran hydroplanes. ^ [3], Law on the creation of the Aeronautics Arm on December 8, 1922 published in JO on December 9, 1922, BNF-Gallica, gallica.bnf.fr ^ Young(ed),"Command in NATO
after the Cold War", 96. ^ Isby, David; Kamps, Charles (1985). Armies of NATO's Central Front. London: Jane's Publishing Company. pp. 168–170. ISBN 0-7106-0341-X.  ^ "Sarkozy confirmed that France
will soon return to NATO’s integrated command"[permanent dead link] 17 June 2008 ^ "Report Hubert Védrine" 12 November 2012 (in English) ^ a b Légifrance, base CDEF(R), numéro R3224-8, Code de la Défense, Art. R.3224-8 ^ "https://www.defense.gouv.fr/air/actus-air/chammal-visite-du-commandant-de-la-brigade-aerienne-de-l-aviation-de-chasse". www.defense.gouv.fr. Retrieved 2018-01-21.  External link in title= (help) ^ [4], Décret n° 2007-601 du 26 avril 2007, modifiant la première partie du code de la Défense (partie réglementaire), Légifrance, Jacques Chirac, April 26, 2007 ^ Décret du 26 avril 2007. ^ "The Military Balance 2013"., 14 March 2013. ^ [5], Métiers et expertise du SCA, defense.gouv.fr, February 11, 2015. ^ a b c d Nouvelles escadres aériennes : une cohérence opérationnelle accrue, des valeurs renforcées. Site de l'Armée de l'air accessed 16 November 2015. ^ Also to note equally that Escadron de Chasse 2/30 Normandie-Niemen (French: Escadron de Chasse 2/30 Normandie-Niemen) has recently readopted the traditional designation of regiment, which the latter has carried during the Second World War at the corps of the Red Army. ^ designations of Escadrilles composed of the identifying number of material devices (for instance SPA for escadrille equipped with SPAD, N for Nieuport, SAL for Salmson,etc.) and an order number ^ [6], Les fusiliers commandos, February 10, 2015, August 2, 2010, defense.gouv.fr; Officier commando de l'air. ^ " France
faced with developments in the international and strategic context" 3 April 2012 (in English) ^ "Le ministère commande la rénovation à mi-vie des Mirage 2000 D".  ^ Scramble. Scramblemagazine.nl. Retrieved on 2013-08-16. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "World Air Forces 2016". Flightglobal: p. 17. Retrieved 8 December 2016. CS1 maint: Extra text (link) ^ Riool, Peter W. " Airbus A400M
Airbus A400M
Full Production List". www.abcdlist.nl. Retrieved 20 December 2017.  ^ http://www.dassault-aviation.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/2/files/2017/03/conf-de-presse-8-mars-v060317-EN.pdf ^ http://www.dassault-aviation.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/2/files/2017/03/2016-12_Communique_financier_EN-v-070317.pdf ^ https://www.dassault-aviation.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/2/files/2017/07/Dassault-Aviation-Press-Conf-July-26-2017.pdf ^ " France
– MQ-9 Reapers – The Official Home of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency". www.dsca.mil.  ^ " France
–C-130J Aircraft - The Official Home of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency". www.dsca.mil.  ^ " France
speeds PC-21 deliveries".  ^ "UNVEILED THE FIRST PILATUS PC-21 FOR FRENCH AIR FORCE".  ^ (in French)http://www.avionslegendaires.net/2018/02/actu/super-king-air-350-alsr-des-shadow-r-mk-1-a-la-francaise/ ^ Michel L. Martin, Le déclin de l'armée de masse en France. Note sur quelques paramètres organisationnels,Revue française de sociologie, volume 22, number 22-1, year 1981, pages 87–115 [www.persee.fr/web/revues/home/prescript/article/rfsoc 0035-2969 1981 num 22 1 3390] ^ Bilan social 90, Editor : Direction de la fonction militaire et du personnel civil, 1990, total pages 62, passage 6 to 8 format=PDF.

Further reading[edit]

Olivier, Jean-Marc, (ed.), Histoire de l'armée de l'air et des forces aériennes françaises du XVIIIe siècle à nos jours" [History of the Air Force
Air Force
and French aerial forces since the 18th century to the present], Toulouse, Privat, 2014, 552 p. Pither, Tony (1998). The Boeing 707 720 and C-135. England: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd. ISBN 0-85130-236-X.  Diego Ruiz Palmer, "France's Military Command Structures in the 1990s," in Thomas-Durell Young, Command in NATO
After the Cold War: Alliance, National and Multinational Considerations, U.S. Army Strategic Studies Institute, June 1997

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Air force
Air force
of France.

(in French) Official website (in English) Official website (in French) List of air bases, appendix of the budget bill for 2006, French Senate

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