France C 160 F216 LMML 20Dec19 Shaun Psaila file info 640French Gabriels retires ahead of schedule

The Armée de l'Air et de l'Espace (AAE, French Air Force) two C-160G Gabriel Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) aircraft will be will phased out in 2022, three years earlier than the original schedule. The two aircraft involved are F216/GT (c/n 219) and F221/GS (c/n 224). reports that the new schedule is linked to the phasing out of the Transall with the AAE. It was intended that the operating unit, EEA01.054 Dunkerque (Escadron électronique aéroporté), was to receive three C-160R Transalls to be used as training aircraft to save hours on the two Gabriels.

The Evreux based unit will receive three Dassault Falcon 8X Archange (Avions de Renseignement à Charge utile de Nouvelle Genération) aircraft. However, the first delivery is not expected before 2026. The three Archange Falcons are to be delivered by 2030.

The changed retirement schedule will leave the AAE with a gap in the SIGINT capability. According to this capability can be done by the Analyseur de Signaux Tactiques (Tactical Signals Analyser, ASTAC) reconnaissance pod, which can be carried by the Mirage 2000D fighter, but it only has electronic intelligence capabilities and often needs to be operated by two aircraft.

Photo by Shaun Psaila (Scramble Archive)

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