France and Germany have laid the foundation stone for the joint Franco-German tactical transport squadron which will operate a fleet of ten C-130J Super Hercules tactical airlifters.
The foundation stone was laid at Évreux-Fauville Air Base (Base aérienne 105 Évreux or BA 105) in northern France on Thursday, September 17. The ceremony was attended by French Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly and her German counterpart, Minister of Defense Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer.
“The birth of this squadron embodies the Europe of defense, in the most beautiful and concrete way,” said Minister Florence Parly.
“The establishment of the joint air transport squadron is a major milestone in the German-French cooperation. We are thus setting an example in European cooperation,” said Minister Kramp-Karrenbauer.
The new joint unit will complement the air transport capabilities offered by the Airbus A400M Atlas airlifter in carrying out the entire field of operational tactical transport missions of the German Air Force (Luftwaffe) and the French Air and Space Force (Armée de l’Air et de l’Espace Française).
Following on from the 2016 declaration of intent between the two countries, this project is part of an ambitious schedule aiming at operational capacity from 2021. From 2023, a joint training center will complete the system, thus ensuring squadron its full autonomy.
French Air Force currently operates four C-130J Super Hercules models (2 KC-130J tankers and 2 stretched C-130J-30 combat airlifters), along with 14 of the older C-130H Hercules models (including 7 stretched C-130H-30s). German Air Force is acquiring three C-130J-30s and three KC-130Js with delivery planned from 2020-2021.
These ten C-130Js (six German and four French) will form the new joint squadron. The joint squadron will have unrestricted exchange of aircraft, air crews, and maintainers, as well as technical and logistical support based on a common pool of spare parts and a common service support contract. The aircraft fleet will be flown and maintained by 130 French airmen and 130 German airmen.
The new C-130J/KC-130Js will be used to conduct airlift, air refueling, and air drop missions as part of the allied squadron. The KC-130Js will provide crucial air refueling capability to German and French fighter and light transport aircraft, as well as helicopters.