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For the logistics of the C-130J Super Hercules transport aircraft, the Bundeswehr wants to rely largely on the French partner at the shared location in Évreux in Normandy. After the Bundestag committees gave the go-ahead for this on March 24, 2021, the funds for a corresponding agreement with France are now available.

France and Germany each want to operate five transport (C-130J-30) and tanker (KC-130J) aircraft together. The German share in the project is three machines of each type of aircraft. While the French planes have already arrived, Germany will only receive the planes between 2022 and 2024.

The envisaged agreement for logistical support (Technical Agreement Initial In-Service Support - TA IISS) includes the spare parts required for the joint operation of the Franco-German air transport team, as well as equipment components and ground service equipment as well as initial industrial support services. The agreement will initially be concluded for the years 2021 to 2024. The logistical support for regular operations (In-Service Support - ISS) is to be built on this.

Deutsch-Französische Logistikzusammenarbeit für Transportflugzeug C-130J
Evreux airfield in France, photo: Bundeswehr Nicolas Thouvenin

The French partner should also secure the initial requirement for spare parts and the initial industrial support from the manufacturer via Foreign Militray Sales (FMS) contracts with the USA. The procurement of equipment components and ground service equipment is also to be carried out by the French side, with the aim of operational and logistical uniformity. It should also serve to cover the needs for German aircraft.

So far, these service shares for initial in-service support for the first three years have already been part of the procurement contract previously concluded with the USA as part of an FMS. The volume of the procurement contract for the six aircraft, including an initial adjustment, amounts to € 965 million. Since the scope of services specified in the agreement with France is largely already the subject of this procurement contract, the intention is to separate these parts from it. In order to cover the higher spare parts requirements calculated with the agreement, this leads to an additional financial requirement of approx. € 50 million over the term.

The above-mentioned additional requirement is justified with the French side's initial experience, according to which the calculations when the original offer was prepared were too optimistic. The agreement with France is based on a performance of 600 flight hours per aircraft per year. A reduction in effort can also be expected here through the use of uniform French logistical procedures and processes.

Deutsch-Französische Logistikzusammenarbeit für Transportflugzeug C-130J
Deutsch-Französische Logistikzusammenarbeit für Transportflugzeug C-130J

On October 18, 2017, the then Deputy Inspector General of the Bundeswehr, Vice Admiral Joachim Rühle, and his French counterpart, Admiral Philippe Coindreau, signed the basic document for further cooperation in the Franco-German air transport cooperation. The aim of the joint operation of the Franco-German air transport unit is joint fleet management and the efficient provision and management of resources. The collaboration also includes staff training in Évreux. The flight training of the crews and the technical instruction of the technical staff on this aircraft type, which is new for the German Air Force, are planned there. Both nations are building a joint training center for this purpose.

On September 1, 2021, the first Franco-German air transport squadron will start their joint service in Évreux. Full operational capability (FOC) is to be achieved in 2024, when all aircraft have arrived.

The air transport squadron, which is operated together with France, closes the capability gap caused by the planned decommissioning of the C-160 Transall by the end of 2021. These are the skills in protected tactical air transport using airfields with little infrastructure or simple unpaved runways as well as in the field of air refueling of helicopters. They are used to perform tasks within the framework of the National Risk and Crisis Management (NatRKM) and to support operations by special forces.

In addition to national orders, the binational squadron also takes on air transports coordinated by the European Air Transport Command (EATC).

Wolfgang Gelpke