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.