Armée de l’Air (AA)

In the Twilight Era

Copyright Peter Grining, 2000


The Armée de l’Air (AA) was the only major air force that went through the Twilight War and survived at anything like it’s pre-war strength. This was mainly due to France not involving herself in what she viewed as questionable acts by West Germany, and what remained of NATO.

French airspace was closed to NATO aircraft, although civilian air traffic continued.

France staying out of World War III, meant she was not adversely affected till the nuclear exchanges of November-December 1997. During this period French ports and oil facilities were struck. France asked, and was given permission, to transit German airspace. The hope was that France would enter the war on the side of NATO. CoFAS responded with the ‘pre-strategic’ ASMP strikes against selected Soviet targets. For every strike against France, one Soviet target was hit. The point had been made France would stay out of the war if left alone.

In early 1998 the AA supported the move by Belgian and French troops into the Rhineland. Losses by the AA were few as West Germany lacked defences in the region.

In August 1998 EC 1/5, EC 2/5, EC 2/3 and elements of ET 1/61 & ERV 1/93 deployed to Kuwait at the request of that government. This force, along with ground troops enabled France to have great influence in post-war relations in the region. In 2000 AA elements were reduced to one composite ground attack/recon squadron with other detachments rotating through as required.

French military operations from 1998-2001 was mainly concerned with operations in La Zone Morte (the ‘Dead Zone’), the free fire zone reaching up to 50 km east of the Rhine. From 2000-2002 the rebel southern region was brutally suppressed, AA aircraft being heavily involved in moving troops, providing air cover and strikes where necessary.

World War III had ended by 2002, with no units in the Central front of Europe making any pretense of fighting for their national governments. This was the period later known as the ‘Contrail War’. AA aircraft would range as far as Moscow in Russia, the Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey and all points in between. This continued into the 2030s, until governments reformed and rearmed.

AA numbers were reduced from 2005, with the force being reduced to less than half size. This came out of the French Defence Conference of 2005. The conference committee came to the conclusion that France would not face a conventional threat requiring large standing forces for another generations (the date given was 2035). Until that time a core competency would be required in such areas as air combat, AWACS and so on. Transport, attack, reconnaissance and ELINT were the priorities.

The Saudi War of 2010-2013 and the Indochina Action of 2030 lead credibility to the findings of the Conference of 2005. The UK demonstrated a crude SAM in 2031 over the North Sea. French radar and ELINT picked up the tests. The next year a reconnaissance flight over the Ukraine suffered a mechanical failure and crashed. The resulting political maneuvring with the Ukraine government actually lead to closer relations. France sent a composite Ecsadre to the Ukraine during the second year of the Russo-Ukrainian War of 2065-2072. Although this unit was supposed to train Ukraine pilots and pass the aircraft on, it was always involved in reconnaissance and air superiority missions. Some attack missions were flown by French pilots also. France kept its level of involvement low to avoid upsetting Russia. In 2070, French involvement became totally open. The catalyst was the entry of Japan with high technology weapons and Japanese ‘advisors’. France could not tolerate any interference in its traditional sphere of influence and it was the increased French involvement, not Japanese, that ended the war.

Organisation as of June 1997:

Ecsadre (wing), usually located at one air base.

Escadron (Squadron).

Example listing:

EC 3/11 ‘Corse’                      Toul                             Jaguar A, B                  (12/8)

Means 3rd Escadron of 11th Wing, based at Toul, operating 12 Jaguar A & 8 Jaguar B.

Escadrille (Flight), 2-3 per Escadron.


Forces Aériennes Stratégiques (FAS)

CoFAS (Strategic Air Forces Command) had only 85 ASMP cruise missiles with nuclear warheads. All free fall nuclear bombs were retired in 1991.

4e Escadre de Chasse

Training is 60%/40% nuclear strike with ASMP/day & night conventional attack with ‘dumb’ weapons.

EC 1/4 ‘Dauphine’                   Luxeuil                         Mirage 2000N-K2       (15)

EC 2/4 ‘La Fayette’                 Luxeuil                         Mirage 2000N-K1       (15)

EC 3/4 ‘Limousin’                    Istres                            Mirage 2000N-K1,K2 (15)

91e Escadre de Bombardment

EB 1/91 also has a photo recon role. Both units use the ASMP.

EB 1/91 ‘Gascogne’                 Mont-de-Marsan          Mirage IVP                  (7)

EB 2/91 ‘La Fayette’                Mont-de-Marsan          Mirage IVP                  (7)

93e Escadre de Ravitaillement en Vol

Air to air refuellingg.

ERV 1/93 ‘Aunis’                     Istres                            C-135FR                     (7)

ERV 2/93 ‘Sologne’                 Avord                          C-135FR                     (2)

ERV 3/93 ‘Landes’                  Mont-de-Marsan          C-135FR                     (2)

1e Groupe de Missiles Strategiques

Equipped with the S-3 IRBM armed with a 1.2 MT warhead. The S-4.5 entered service in 1996 in the silo version. The mobile S-4.5 was delayed till 1998.

1e Escadrille de Tir                   Rustrel                          S-3, S-4.5 IRBM         (5/4)

2e Escadrille de Tir                   Reilhannette                  S-3 IRBM                    (9)


Forces Aérienne Tactique

FATac (Tactical Air Force) controls all attack aircraft except the specialised nuclear strike of CoFAS.

3e Escadre de Chasse

Operates as day/night precision attack. The APACHE cruise missile is used by EC 1/3

EC 1/3 ‘Navarre’                     Nancy                          Mirage 2000D-R2        (15)

EC 2/3 ‘Cote d’Or’                  Nancy                          Mirage 2000D-R1        (15)

EC 3/3 ‘Ardennes’                   Nancy                          Mirage 2000D-R1        (15)

7e Escadre de Chasse

Day/night precision attack. EC 1/7 fly the Mirage 2000N with ‘dumb weapons’ only.

EC 1/7 ‘Provence’                   St. Dizier                      Mirage 2000N-K2       (15)

EC 2/7 ‘Argonne’                     St. Dizier                      Mirage 2000D-R1        (15)

EC 3/7 ‘Languedoc’                 St. Dizier                      Mirage 2000D-R1        (15)

11e Escadre de Chasse

11e supports 1st Army. EC 1/11 operates as conventional attack unit, using ‘dumb bombs’ and day precision attack with smart weapons. EC 2/11 operates as an ECM and ARM unit. EC 3/11 is the Jaguar OCU. To convert to Rafale B after 2005.

EC 1/11 ‘Roussillon’                Toul                             Jaguar A                       (20)

EC 2/11 ‘Vosges’                    Toul                             Jaguar A                       (20)

EC 3/11 ‘Corse’                      Toul                             Jaguar A, B                  (12/8)

13e Escadre de Chasse

Conventional attack. Planned to convert to Rafale B after 2010.

EC 1/13 ‘Artois’                      Colmar                         Mirage F1CT               (15)

EC 2/13 ‘Alpes’                       Colmar                         Mirage F1CT               (15)

EC 3/13 ‘Auvergne’                 Colmar                         Mirage F1CT               (15)

33e Escadre de Reconnaissance


EC 1/33 ‘Belfort’                     Strasbourg                    Mirage F1CR               (15)

EC 2/33 ‘Savoie’                     Strasbourg                    Mirage F1CR               (15)

EC 3/33 ‘Moselle’                    Strasbourg                    Mirage F1CR               (15)

Escadron Electronique Tactique 54 ‘Dunkerque’

ELINT. EET 21/54 withdrawn from West Germany in November 1996.

EET 11/54                               Orleans                        C-160G GABRIEL      (2)

EET 21/54 ‘Goslar’                  Goslar, West Germany Puma                            (2)


Commandement ‘Air’ des Forces de Défense Aérienne

CAFDA is responsible for air defence of France including SAM units and ground radar stations.


CODA: Centre Operationnel de Defense Aerienne is the HQ of CAFDA and is located in an underground bunker near Taverny.


1e ZAD Nord-Est: Zones Aerienne de Defense for NE France.

CDC/COZ: Centre de Detection et de Controlle (Control & Reporting Centre, basically radar site)/Centre Operationnel de Zone (Sector Operating Sector, Zone HQ) located at Drachenbronn.

COZ’s: Contrexeville, Doullens, Romilly-sur-Seine


2e ZAD Sud-Est: SE France.

CDC/COZ: Lyon/Mt Verdun

COZ’s: Nice/Mt Agel, Narbonne


3e ZAD Ouest: West region France.

CDC/COZ: Cinq-Mars-la-Pile

COZ’s: Brest, Mont-de-Marsan


2e, 12e & 30e Escadre are based in 1e ZAD, 5e in 2e ZAD, although the aircraft can be scrambled against an intruder in any region.

2e Escadre de Chasse

2e Escadre Mirage 2000 have the less capable RDM radar. EC2/2 is the Mirage 2000 OCU. To convert to Mirage 2000-5F 1998-2000.

EC 1/2 ‘Cigognes’                    Dijon                            Mirage 2000C-S3        (15)

EC 2/2 ‘Cote d’Or’                  Dijon                            Mirage 2000B, C-S3   (12/3)

EC 3/2 ‘Limousin’                    Dijon                            Mirage 2000C-S3        (15)

5e Escadre de Chasse

The Mirage 2000C-S4 will be updated to Mirage 2000-5F and passed onto 2e. To convert to Rafale C after returning from Kuwait in 2000.

EC 1/5 ‘Vendee’                      Orange                         Mirage 2000C-S4        (15)

EC 2/5 ‘Ile de France’              Orange                         Mirage 2000C-S5        (15)

EC 3/5 ‘Comtat Venaissin’       Orange                         Mirage 2000C-S4        (15)

12e Escadre de Chasse

Aircraft will be updated to Mirage 2000-5F standard 2001-2003.

EC 1/12 ‘Cambresis’                Cambrai                       Mirage 2000C-S5        (15)

EC 2/12 ‘Picardie’                   Cambrai                       Mirage 2000C-S5        (15)

EC 3/12 ‘Cornouaille’              Cambrai                       Mirage 2000C-S5        (15)

30e Escadre de Chasse

EC 2/30 stood down in June 1996 to re-equip with the Rafale C. Full complement of 15 aircraft is due by December 1996. EC 1/30 is due to convert by December 1997 & EC 3/30 by December 1998.

EC 1/30 ‘Valois’                      Reims                           Mirage F1C                 (15)

EC 2/30 ‘Normandie-Nieman’Reims                            Rafale   C                     (6)

EC 3/30 ‘Lorraine’                   Reims                           Mirage F1C, B             (4/11)

EC 4/30 ‘Vexin’                       Djibouti, Africa             Mirage F1C                 (10)

36e Escadre de Detection Aeroportee

EDA 1/36 ‘Belfort’                   Avord                          E-3F                            (2)

EDA 2/36 ‘Nivernais’               Avord                          E-3F                            (2)

SAM squadrons

Each Crotale ESDA (Escadron de Defense Sol-Air) consists of two firing sections. Each section has 2 launchers with 4 ready rounds R.440 Crotale, and 1 fire control radar. 40mm towed AA provide close in defence.

ESDA 1/950’Vaccares’           Mont-de-Marsan          Crotale

ESDA 2/950 ‘Sancerre’           Avord                          Crotale

ESDA 3/950 ‘Lure’                  Apt                              Crotale

ESDA 4/950 ‘Servance’           Luxeuil                         Crotale

ESDA 5/950’Barrois’               St Dizier                       Crotale

ESDA 6/950 ‘Riquewihr’         Colmar                         Crotale

ESDA 7/950                            Strasbourg                    Crotale

ESDA 8/950                            Dijon                            Crotale

ESDA 9/950                            Cambrai                       Crotale

ESDA 10/950 ‘Monfort’          Contrexeville                Crotale

ESDA 11/950                          Chateaudun                  Crotale

ESDA 12/950                          Mont-de-Marsan          Mistral

ESDA 32/950                          Cazaux                         Mistral

ESDA 34/950                          Orange                         Mistral


Commandement du Transport Aérienne Militaire

10 C-160NG are fitted as inflight refuellers. All Transall are being fitted with chaff/decoy dispensers 1994-1999 and are used as short range tactical transports. ET 2/61 operates the C-130H with Army SF units and the C-130H-30 as long range transports.

61e Escadre de Transport

ET 1/61 ‘Touraine’                   Orleans                        C-160F                        (15)

ET 2/61 ‘Franche Comte’         Orleans                        C-130H, C-130H-30   (3/9)

ET 3/61 ‘Poitu’                        Orleans                        C-160F                        (12)

64e Escadre de Transport

ET 1/64 ‘Beam’                       Evreux                          C-160NG                    (11)

ET 2/64 ‘Anjou’                       Evreux                          C-160NG                    (11)

67e Escadre d’Helicopteres

1/67 is assigned security duties. 4/67 IRBM security. The following units have SAR functions in addition to general duties: 2/67 NE France, 3/67 Paris region including VIP transport, 5/67 SE France including special operations with Army units, 6/67 Corsica.

EH 1/67 ‘Pyrenees’                  Cazaux             Fennec, Alouette III, Puma       (4/3/4)

EH 2/67 ‘Valmy’                      Metz                Fennec, Alouette III                  (4/5)

EH 3/67 ‘Parisis’                      Villacoublay      Fennec, Alouette II, III, Puma(4/2/5/3)

EH 4/67 ‘Durance’                   Apt                  Fennec, Puma                           (2/2)

EH 5/67 ‘Alpilles’                     Aix                   Fennec, Alouette III, Puma       (3/3/4)

EH 6/67 ‘Solenzara’                 Solenzara         Fennec, Puma                           (1/2)

Groupe Aerien Mixte

Used for ‘special missions’.

GAM 56 ‘Vaucluse’                 Evreux              AS 532 Cougar                        (3)