French Air Force Aircraft Inventory

The French Air Force operates a fleet of 874 active aircraft. This includes fighters, transport aircraft, passenger transport and helicopters. 150 comprise the air mobility force (CFAP) and include aircraft such as C-160 and the C-130 Hercules. The CFAP also includes 80 helicopters like the Super Puma and the Ecureuil. 306 combat aircraft are incorporated into 19 squadrons. The Air 2010 concept allows for 300 fighters, mainly composed of the new generation multirole combat airplane Rafale.

Aircraft Origin Type Versions In service
Combat aircraft
Dassault Mirage 2000 France Fighter Aircraft
Attack Aircraft
Trainer Aircraft
Dassault Mirage F1 France Trainer Aircraft
Reconnaissance Attack Aircraft
Dassault Rafale France Multirole Fighter B

Total Aircraft
Dassault-Breguet/Dornier Alpha Jet France Trainer Aircraft (Advanced) Alpha Jet E 140
Embraer EMB 121 Xingu Brazil Trainer Aircraft EMB 121 30
Jodel D-140 France Trainer Aircraft
Socata TB France Trainer Aircraft TB 30 Epsilon 92
Walter Extra 300 Germany Trainer Aircraft (Aerobatic) Extra 300SC 3

Total Aircraft
Dassault Falcon 50 France VIP Transport Falcon 50 4
Dassault Falcon 900 France VIP Transport Falcon 900 2
Dassault Falcon 7X France VIP Transport Falcon 7X 1
Socata TBM France VIP Transport TBM 700 16
Airbus A319 European Union VIP Transport A319-115 CJ 2
Airbus A330 European Union VIP Transport A330-223 1
Airbus A340 European Union Strategic Transport A340-211 2
Airbus A310 European Union Strategic Transport A310-304 3
Lockheed C-130 Hercules United States Tactical Transport C-130H/C-130H-30 14
CASA CN-235 Spain Tactical Transport CN-235-200/CN-235-200M 19
Transall C-160 France Germany Tactical Transport C-160R 51
de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter Canada Utility transport DHC-6 5

Total Aircraft
Transport/Search and Rescue
Eurocopter AS532 Cougar European Union Transport AS 532UL 7
Eurocopter AS332 Super Puma European Union Transport AS 332L 3
Eurocopter AS555 Fennec European Union Utility AS 555AN 42
Aérospatiale SA330 Puma France Transport helicopter SA 330 29

Total Aircraft
Maritime Patrol/Reconnaissance/Tanker
Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker United States Refuelling C-135FR 14
Boeing E-3 Sentry United States Airborne early warning E-3F 4
Transall C-160 France Germany ELINT C-160G Gabriel 2

Total Aircraft
Nuclear strike
Mirage 2000N France Nuclear strike Mirage 2000/N 64

Total Aircraft
Total Air Craft in service

Total Aircraft

French Air Force

The French Air Force (Armée de l'Air (ALA), literally Army of the Air) is the air force of the French Armed Forces. It was formed in 1909 as the Service Aéronautique making it the world's oldest airforce. The French Air Force operates 874 aircraft, making it the 4th largest air force in terms of aircraft in NATO, after the air forces of the United States, United Kingdom and Turkey.

The French Air Force is organized into three levels:

Central Command

The President of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, is Chief of the armed forces, responsible for the overall defence policy. The Prime Minister is responsible for national defence and the Minister of Defence is responsible for the execution of the military policy.

He is advised by the Chief of Staff of the Armies (CEMA) in regard to the use of forces and the control of military operations. The Chief of Staff-Air Force (CEMAA) determines the air force doctrines and advises the CEMA how to deploy French aerial assets. He is responsible for the preparation and logistic support of the air force. The CEMAA is assisted by the air force staff and by its subordinate services. Finally, the CEMAA is assisted by the inspection of the air force (IAA) and by the air force health service inspection (ISSAA).

Greater operational and organic commands

In the ALA the responsibilities are separated in two main types of commands: operational commands (direct responsible for force deployment) and organic commands (in charge of conditioning and logistic support). These commands are subject to change before 2010 (see Future).

CFAS—Strategic Air Command

All the air forces nuclear assets are placed in this command which is responsible for the operational condition and the eventual deployment of these weapons. The CFAS is one of the two pillars of the French nuclear deterrent. CFAS has 3 squadrons of dual capable Mirage 2000N fighter/bombers capable of carrying the nuclear Air-Sol Moyenne Portée stand-off missile and a squadron of C-135FR in-flight refuelling tankers at its disposal to carry out their missions. The commanding CFAS general is responsible for the execution of the mission.

CDAOA—Air Defence and Air Operations Command

This overall command is responsible for all air operations in peacetime serving the public, for the defence of the French airspace and for all offensive and defensive air operations at war.

CFA—Joint Air Command

A new command which has been inaugurated in 2006. It is responsible to ensure and to maintain the operational condition of all branches of the air force now and for the future. At present day the CFA consists of

  • 16 fighter squadrons and 25 air defence squadrons
  • 1 electronic warfare squadron
  • simulator and instruction centres

On its airbases in Europe and abroad the CFA has 16m000 personnel, 279 fighter aircraft, 122 transport aircraft and 85 helicopters.

CASSIC—Air Surveillance, Information and Communication Systems Command

This command has already been dissolved and the 8100 personnel, working in the former CASSIC have been transferred to the other existing air force commands and to the DIRISI, the interim joint defence communication and intelligence organisation.

CDAOA, based in Paris and Lyon, plans and executes all air operations. ex-CASSIC personnel are embedded here to develop exercises and operations abroad.

CFA prepares the forces. Since 2007, 38% ex-CASSIC personnel rejoined the airspace control brigade which also controls all ground-air defence units.

CSFA, based in Bordeaux, guards the technical and logistical assets. Since 2006 it has taken over many ex-CASSIC projects.

CEAA—Air Force Training Command

Responsible for training all new air force personnel as well as on the technical and on the job training of the other air force personnel, as well as the officers and NCO training. CEAA is also responsible for all schools and training facilities.

CFPSAA—Operational Support Command

This command is responsible for the operational readiness and the deployment of all base protecting squadrons, dog-handlers, fire brigades, paratroopers and NBC and decontamination personnel. In 2007, the CFPSAA has been renamed BAFSI (Brigade Aérienne des Forces de Sécurité et d'Intervention).

Airbase Command

The air base command levels are the combat assets of the ALA. 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.

Flying 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 almost similar infrastructure to provide standardised support. This operational mode allows fast and easy creation of air bases outside of France.

Overseas, fighters, transport aircraft and helicopters allow quick response to any request for assistance that falls within international agreements. On average, a base platform, 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.

Royal Air Force Uniform

The Royal Air Force uniform is the standardised military dress worn by members of the Royal Air Force. The predominant colours of Royal Air Force uniforms are blue-grey and Wedgewood blue. Many Commonwealth air forces' uniforms are also based on the RAF pattern, but with nationality shoulder flashes. Cadets of the British ATC and CCF (RAF) Sections wear similar uniforms.

Official numbering

The RAF currently numbers the various uniforms which may be worn. The following table summarizes the numbering:

Number Name Notes on use
No 1 Service Dress In temperate regions.
No 2 Service Working Dress In temperate regions.
No 3 Operational Clothing Different patterns for different climates.
No 4 Interim Mess Dress For personnel without No 5 dress.
No 5 Mess Dress In temperate regions.
No 6 Service Dress In warm weather regions. In stone colour, except for 6A (full ceremonial) which is white.
No 7 Service Working Dress In warm weather regions. In stone colour.
No 8 Mess Dress In warm weather regions. Jacket in white.
No 9 RAF Music Services uniform For Directors of Music, bandmasters and musicians
No 10 RAF Music Services uniform For Directors of Music, bandmasters and musicians
No 11 RAF Music Services uniform For Directors of Music, bandmasters and musicians
No 12 Physical Training Instructor Dress Various patterns
No 13 Physical Training Instructor Dress - Parachute Jump Instructor Duties With helmet or beret
No 14 Flying Clothing Various patterns. Consists of a flight suit and optional jacket

Royal Air Force Uniform: Service dress

The RAF's service dress is worn on formal and ceremonial occasions. In temperate regions, it is the most formal uniform in use at present. It remains essentially unchanged from the service dress uniform adopted in the early 1920s. It consists of a blue-grey jacket and trousers (or skirt for female personnel). A great coat may be worn at ceremonial events when the weather is cold.

In 1947, the temperate officers' services dress jacket was altered. The lower side pockets were removed and the single slit was replaced by two hacking jacket style slits. The lower button was moved up to a position behind the belt and silk embroidery flying badges were replaced with ones in bullion embroidery. These changes were unpopular and in 1951, with the exception of the lower button move, the former uniform style was re-adopted.

Service dress takes the following forms:

  • No. 1 Service Dress, for temperate regions. Blue-grey colour.
  • No. 1A Service Dress (Ceremonial Day Dress), for temperate regions and for air officers only. As per No. 1 Service Dress. Air vice-marshals and above wear a ceremonial sash and shoulder boards. Entitled air commodores only add the ceremonial sash.
  • No. 6 Service Dress, for tropical regions. Stone colour.

Royal Air Force Uniform: Service working dress

Service working dress, officially designated Number 2 Dress, is the routine uniform worn by most RAF personnel not on operations. It is analogous to the Army's barrack dress. RAF service working dress comes in a number of variations:

  • No 2: Long sleeve shirt with jumper, tie optional
  • No 2a: Long sleeve shirt with tie, jumper not worn
  • No 2b: Short sleeve shirt without tie, jumper optional
  • No 2c: Long sleeve dark blue shirt without tie, jumper optional (certain trades only)

The RAF stable belt may be worn with all forms of service working dress.

Royal Air Force Uniform: Flying duties

Aircrew-specific uniforms are officially designated as Number 14 Dress by the RAF. Aircrew on flying duties wear an olive drab flying suit in temperate regions or a khaki flying suit in desert regions. A leather flying jacket, purchased at individual expense, may be worn with the flying suit but only while the wearer is on the ground.

Royal Air Force Uniform: Ground duties

RAF personnel either on operations, on exercise or in certain formed units wear a disruptive pattern material uniform which is essentially the same as the British Army's operational uniform. In temperate regions Combat Soldier 95 uniform is worn and in desert regions, Desert Combat Clothing is worn.

In order to distinguish RAF personnel from Army personnel, in 2006 an operational clothing identity patch was introduced with the text "ROYAL AIR FORCE" in black capitals on a green background. The patch is worn over the right chest pocket, the Desert Combat DPM dress also features this "ROYAL AIR FORCE" text but it is not mandatory to have this patch whilst operationally deployed.

Also in 2006 a 45mm squared tactical recognition flash was introduced for all personnel to wear on their operation clothing.

Royal Air Force Uniform: Mess dress

In the RAF mess dress, officially designated Number 5 dress, is worn at formal evening functions. All regular officers possess mess dress whereas warrant officers and senior non-commissioned officers wear mess dress if they choose to purchase it. The current mess dress for men consists of a high waisted blue-grey single-breasted jacket fastened at the front by a single link of two RAF buttons connected by a link clip, white marcella shirt, bow tie, waistcoat or cummerbund and blue-grey trousers. Rank, for officers, is indicated in gold braid on the lower sleeve.

The first RAF mess dress was introduced in 1920 and it featured a high waisted single-breasted blue-grey jacket which tapered to a point at the front below the waist. A blue-grey waistcoat, trousers and black shoes were also worn. Rank was indicated on shoulder boards in gold lace. This uniform was modified in 1928 when the shoes were replaced by boots and overalls with gold lace and bright blue stripes were introduced. This modified form of the uniform lasted until 1934 when it was replaced by a version similar to the current men's mess dress. The wearing of mess dress was suspended during World War II.

For women, mess dress currently consists of the same style high waisted blue-grey single-breasted jacket and white marcella shirt as men, a small bow tie and cummerbund and a straight ankle length blue-gray skirt, worn with patent-leather court shoes and barely-black tights or stockings. From the 1970s and prior to the introduction of current women's mess dress in 1996, female officers wore a royal blue "Empire line" dress made of crimplene material with a loose mandarin neck, long sleeves and an ankle length hem. Rank was indicated on a small enamelled brooch worn near the neck.

Officers serving at Scottish stations may wear the RAF tartan with their mess dress. The tartan was designed in 1988 and it was officially recognised by the Ministry of Defence in 2001. The tartan is also worn by the RAF's voluntary pipes bands, although not as part of an official RAF uniform.

RAF personnel without No 5 dress, such as airmen, junior officer cadets and some non-regular officers, wear No 1 dress with the blue shirt and tie replaced with a white marcella shirt and black bow tie should the need to wear mess dress arise. This dress pattern is officially designated Number 4 Dress and was previously known as (Interim) Mess Dress.

RAF Operation Ellamy

Operation ELLAMY is the codename for the United Kingdom participation in the 2011 military intervention in Libya. The operation is part of an international coalition aimed at enforcing a Libyan no-fly zone in accordance with the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 which stipulated that "all necessary measures" shall be taken to protect civilians. UK sorties are under the operational command of the United States. The Canadian participation is Operation MOBILE and the French participation is Opération Harmattan. The coalition operation is designated by the United States Department of Defense by the code name Operation Odyssey Dawn.

The no-fly zone was proposed during the 2011 Libyan uprising to prevent government forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi from carrying out air attacks on rebel forces. Several countries have prepared to take immediate military action at a conference in Paris on 19 March, 2011.

Background to operation

The UN Security Council Resolution 1973 passed on the evening of 17 March 2011 gave a mandate to countries wishing to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya militarily. A conference involving international leaders took place in Paris on the afternoon of Saturday 19 March 2011. International military action commenced after the conference finished, with French military fighter jets being the first to participate in the operation only a few hours after the conference finished in Paris with the first shot fired at 1645 GMT against a Libyan tank.

Deployed forces

  • Royal Navy[1]
    • HMS Westminster (F237), a Type 23 frigate
    • HMS Cumberland (F85), a Type 22 frigate
      • 2 × Lynx Mk.8 helicopters
    • HMS Triumph (S93), a Trafalgar-class submarine
  • Royal Air Force
    • Joint Force Air Component Headquarters at RAF Akrotiri
    • Headquarters 906 Expeditionary Air Wing at Gioia del Colle Air Base
      • 10 × Typhoon multirole fighters from RAF Coningsby and RAF Leuchars,
      • 8 × Tornado GR4 interdictor/strike aircraft from RAF Marham
    • Headquarters 907 Expeditionary Air Wing at RAF Akrotiri
      • 3 × Sentry AEW.1 AWACS aircraft from RAF Waddington
      • A Nimrod R1 signals intelligence aircraft
      • A Sentinel R1 airborne standoff radar aircraft from RAF Waddington
      • VC10 air-to-air refuelling tankers from RAF Brize Norton
    • Force Elements Operated from UK
      • Tornado GR4 interdictor/strike aircraft from RAF Marham
      • TriStar K1 air-to-air refuelling tankers from RAF Brize Norton
  • Possible deployment of Special Forces to mark targets for aircraft

Summary of operation Ellamy

Day 1 - 19 March 2011

On the afternoon of 19 March, the Royal Navy Trafalgar-class submarine HMS Triumph fired Tomahawk cruise missiles. A combined total along with US over the day was reported by the US to be over 110 missiles. The Royal Navy also has a Type 22 frigate (HMS Cumberland) and a Type 23 frigate (HMS Westminster) engaged in a naval blockade.

David Cameron, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, confirmed that British aircraft were in action over Libya on the 19th,[28] although it was the French Air Force who made the first coalition aerial presence over Libya earlier the same day.

Sentry, Sentinel and VC-10 aircraft were said to be carrying out operations from RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus. The home base for the VC-10 aircraft was RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire and for the Sentinel and Sentry aircraft was RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire.

On the night of 19-20 March 2011, Storm Shadow missiles were launched by Tornado GR4 aircraft. Tornados of No. 9 Squadron from RAF Marham had sortied on a 3,000 mi (4,800 km) mission to fire Storm Shadow missiles against targets in Libya. They required refuelling by British tanker aircraft three times on the outward journey and once on the return. Tristar aircraft were involved.

Day 2 - 20 March 2011

The MoD announced that Tornado and Typhoon aircraft would be deployed to the Italian Gioia del Colle Air Base.

The Trafalgar-class submarine HMS Triumph launched further Tomahawk cruise missiles at targets in Libya.

Tornados GR4s, flying from Marham, were about to attack a target but did not fire their missiles due to reports of civilians near the target.

Day 3 - 21 March 2011

The Prime Minister announced to the House of Commons on 21 March at the start of the debate on the UNSC resolution that RAF Typhoons had been deployed to an Italian airbase (Gioia del Colle) and would fly in support of the NFZ. Three Typhoons successfully conducted a mission and returned to Gioia del Colle.

Headquarters 906 Expeditionary Air Wing formed at Gioia del Colle Air Base responsible for assets forward deployed there. Headquarters 907 Expeditionary Air Wing formed at RAF Akrotiri responsible for assets forward deployed there. C-17A Globemaster and Hercules transport aircraft were also used to assist in the build up of deployed forces.

Day 4 - 22 March 2011

RAF Typhoons flew their first ever combat mission, patrolling the no-fly zone while Tornado GR4s from RAF Marham flew an armed reconnaissance sortie. The MoD reported that Royal Navy ships Triumph, Westminister and Cumberland remained in theatre for additional strikes and patrol.

Day 5 - 23 March 2011

Tornado GR4s were forwarded deployed to Gioia del Colle Air Base. In a media interview, the UK Air Component Commander, Air Vice Marshall Greg Bagwell, stated that the Libyan Air Force "no longer exists as a fighting force" and that "we have the Libyan ground forces under constant observation and we attack them whenever they threaten civilians or attack population centres."

Day 6 - 24 March 2011

Tomahawk Cruise Missiles were again fired at targets from HMS Triumph

RAF Tornado aircraft on an armed reconnaissance mission launched Brimstone missiles against Libyan armoured vehicles that were reported to be threatening the civilian population of Adjdabiya. Four T-72 tanks were destroyed in the attack by Tornados, and three by another coalition aircraft. Likely target locations had previously been identified by other Tornado aircraft equipped with RAPTOR pods.

RAF Military equipment used in operation ellamy

Combat aircraft used in Operation Ellamy

A military aircraft flying with weapons beneath its wings
Tornado GR4
Typhoon F2

Surveillance aircraft used in Operation Ellamy

Sentry AEW1
Sentinel R1
Nimrod R1

Air-to-air refuelling and military transport aircraft used in Operation Ellamy

TriStar KC1

Royal Air Force Officer Ranks

Officers hold a commission from the Sovereign, which provides the legal authority for them to issue orders to subordinates. The commission of a regular officer is granted after successfully completing the 30-week-long Initial Officer Training course at the RAF College, Cranwell, Lincolnshire. Other officers also train at RAF Cranwell, but on different courses, such as those for professionally qualified officers.

The titles and insignia of RAF officers were chiefly derived from those used by the Royal Navy, specifically the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) during World War I. For example, the rank of Squadron Leader derived its name from the RNAS rank of Squadron Commander. RAF officers fall into three categories: air officers, senior officers and junior officers.

NATO Code OF-10 OF-9 OF-8 OF-7 OF-6
United Kingdom United Kingdom

RAF-MRAF-OF-10.png RAF-ACM-OF-9.png RAF-AM-OF-8.png RAF-AVM-OF-7.png RAF-Air Cdre-OF-6.png
Marshal of the Royal Air Force1 Air Chief Marshal Air Marshal Air Vice-Marshal Air Commodore
Abbreviation MRAF Air Chf Mshl or ACM Air Mshl or AM AVM Air Cdre

NATO Code OF-6 OF-5 OF-4 OF-3 OF-2
United Kingdom United Kingdom

RAF-Air Cdre-OF-6.png RAF-Gp Capt-OF-5.png RAF-Wg Cdr-OF-4.png RAF-Sqn Ldr-OF-3.png RAF-Flt Lt-OF-2.png
Air Commodore Group Captain Wing Commander Squadron Leader Flight Lieutenant
Abbreviation Air Cdre Gp Capt Wg Cdr Sqn Ldr Flt Lt

NATO Code OF-1 OF(D) Student Officer
United Kingdom United Kingdom

RAF-Fg Off-OF-1.png RAF-Plt Off-OF-1.png
Flying Officer Pilot Officer
Officer Cadet or Student Officer
Abbreviation Fg Off Plt Off A/Plt Off OCdt