On 30 August 2021, the German Minister of Defence Mrs. Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer met with her French counterpart, Mrs. Florence Parly, in Paris. On this occasion, the two ministers signed the second Inter-governmental agreement on Franco-German cooperation in the field of tactical air transport. It aims at creating a bi-national squadron and training centre on the Evreux air base, with the purpose of operating a fleet of C-130J aircrafts. This signature will enable the official creation of the Franco-German squadron on 1 September 2021. Initial operational capability should be reached in autumn 2021 with the establishment of the unit in Evreux, and full operational capability in 2024.
The Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules is a four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft. The C-130J is a comprehensive update of the Lockheed C-130 Hercules, with new engines, flight deck, and other systems. As of February 2018, 400 C-130J aircraft have been delivered to 17 nations. The C-130J is the newest version of the C-130 Hercules and the only model still in production. In 2015, the French Air Force ordered 4 Super Hercules to supplement existing capabilities due to the ongoing problems and delays of the ordered Airbus A400M. In January 2017, German defence minister announced the intention to purchase up to 6 C-130J Hercules to acquire tactical airlift capabilities due to the delayed deliveries of the Airbus A400M. Together with the C-130J of the French Air Force this will form a joint air transport squadron.
Resulting from works launched in 2016, this bi-national tactical airlift fleet is a new major area of cooperation between France and Germany. It will contribute to strengthening the interoperability of both Armed Forces. Within this unit, French and German soldiers will be able to work in mixed teams, without distinction of nationality. While retaining the possibility of carrying out missions within a purely national framework, this is the first time an air force squadron is able to carry out operational missions with mixed crews, on French and German aircrafts. This creation should be considered as a major achievement.
The squadron’s four French Air Force C-130Js are stationed at Air Base 123 at Orleans-Bricy pending their move to Evreux in Normandy where the joint Franco-German air transport squadron will be based. The German Air Force reported that a maintenance hangar for three aircraft is being built at Evreux 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 Evreux 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.