Senior German generals have described the Armée de l’Air's (French Air Force's: AdlA's) new C-130J as the first step towards the establishment of a joint air transport squadron by Germany and France.
Lieutenant General Erhard Bühler, who heads the planning team for the joint squadron in the German Ministry of Defence (MoD), was quoted on the ministry's website as saying: "The first aircraft, even if it carries French insignia, is the starting shot. Only together can we accomplish the coming tasks of Europe. France and Germany, shoulder to shoulder, that is our future."
The Inspekteur der Luftwaffe, the chief of the German Air Force, Lieutenant General Karl Müllner, expressed satisfaction that "the first step towards building up a new joint unit is being made", adding: "The C-130J will fill a gap which will emerge with the retirement of the aging Transall."
Germany and France are setting up a joint air transport squadron consisting of four French and six German C-130Js based at the French airbase in Évreux, Normandy, with an initial operational capability in 2021 and full operational capability in 2024.
The first C-130J-30 transport version was delivered to France in late December 2017 and handed over to the AdlA's Escadron de Transport (Transport Squadron) 2/61 ‘Franche-Comté’ at Air Base 123 Orléans-Bricy on 15 January. One more C-130J-30 and two KC-130J aerial refuelling aircraft will be delivered by the end of 2019.
C-130J deliveries to Germany are planned starting in 2021, when the C-160 Transall is phased out. Three of the German aircraft will be KC-130J tankers.
A joint Franco-German training centre will be built at Évreux to train aircrews and maintenance personnel starting in 2021.
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