French and German Binational C-130 Squadron
French and German Binational C-130 Squadron

French and German Binational C-130 Squadron Reach Its Initial Operational Capability on 1 September

The German Air Force (Luftwaffe) reporteded on 10 March that the binational C-130J Super Hercules Squadron air transport squadron being formed by France and Germany is to reach its initial operational capability (IOC) on 1 September as planned despite the Covid-19 pandemic. The French and German squadron consists of a combined 10 Super Hercules aircraft. In 2018, Germany announced the acquisition of six Super Hercules aircraft to be operated in partnership with French Air Force (Armée de l’Air et de l’Espace) France has received a total of four Super Hercules aircraft through a Foreign Military Sale with the U.S. government. France’s Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules are operated in conjunction with its existing C-130H fleet.

France Air Force second KC-130J Super Hercules aerial refueler takes off from Lockheed Martin’s facility in Marietta, Georgia, upon delivery in 2019. (Photo by Lockheed Martin)

The squadron’s four French Air Force C-130Js are stationed at Air Base 123 at Orléans-Bricy pending their move to Évreux in Normandy where the joint Franco-German air transport squadron will be based. The Luftwaffe reported that a maintenance hangar for three aircraft is being built at Évreux where 10 C-130Js will be based, half of which will be tanker versions. The 16-strong German national support element is scheduled to move to Évreux in April along with seven Bundeswehr civilian personnel, followed by French members of the squadron in July and 40 Luftwaffe pilots, technicians, load masters, clerks, and administrative staff in August. The squadron’s IOC will be provided by two C-130J transports and two KC-130J tankers from the FAF, with the six German aircraft to be delivered at the rate of one every six months starting in February 2022.

In September 2020, the German Defence minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer and the French Defence minister Florence Parly symbolically laid the foundation stone for the C-130 squadron. (Photo by Bundeswehr)

In 2017, France and Germany approached AFLCMC to procure two C-130 models for Germany to enable the creation of the joint squadron. At the time, the French C-130 aircraft were already in production. The US Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) has delivered C-130 aircraft to a joint French and German squadron at Évreux-Fauville Air Base, France. The joint squadron received two C-130J Super Hercules and the first of two KC-130J aircraft. The programme includes the delivery of a total of seven aircraft by 2026. The plan involved the sale of aircraft to Germany and France separately. The programme also involved a plan to negotiate directly with the French military for fleet sustainment. The joint squadron creates a mechanism wherein a French pilot and a German loadmaster can work with the same aircraft.

At Évreux-Fauville Air Base (Base aérienne 105 Évreux or BA 105), work has already begun to provide a new building for the squadron, new operating areas and parking spaces for the aircraft on an area of ​​20 hectares. (Photo by French Air Force)

The C-130J Super Hercules is the current production model of the legendary C-130 Hercules mid-size tactical airlifter, offering superior performance and enhanced capabilities with the range and versatility for every theater of operations and evolving requirements. To date, the Super Hercules fleet counts 24 operators in 21 nations around the world and has surpassed 2 million flight hours. As the preeminent tactical aerial refueling tanker, the KC-130J is a battle-tested solution that takes full advantage of the tremendous technological and performance improvements inherent in the C-130J Super Hercules aircraft. A true force multiplier, the KC-130J refuels both fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft as well as conducts rapid ground refueling.