In the Twilight Era
The Armée de lAir (AA) was the only major air force that went through the Twilight War and survived at anything like its 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.
Ecsadre (wing), usually located at one air base.
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.
CoFAS (Strategic Air Forces Command) had only 85 ASMP cruise missiles with nuclear warheads. All free fall nuclear bombs were retired in 1991.
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)
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)
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)
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)
FATac (Tactical Air Force) controls all attack aircraft except the specialised nuclear strike of CoFAS.
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 dOr Nancy Mirage 2000D-R1 (15)
EC 3/3 Ardennes Nancy Mirage 2000D-R1 (15)
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 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)
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)
EC 1/33 Belfort Strasbourg Mirage F1CR (15)
EC 2/33 Savoie Strasbourg Mirage F1CR (15)
EC 3/33 Moselle Strasbourg Mirage F1CR (15)
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)
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.
COZs: Contrexeville, Doullens, Romilly-sur-Seine
2e ZAD Sud-Est: SE France.
CDC/COZ: Lyon/Mt Verdun
COZs: Nice/Mt Agel, Narbonne
3e ZAD Ouest: West region France.
COZs: 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 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 dOr Dijon Mirage 2000B, C-S3 (12/3)
EC 3/2 Limousin Dijon Mirage 2000C-S3 (15)
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)
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)
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-NiemanReims Rafale C (6)
EC 3/30 Lorraine Reims Mirage F1C, B (4/11)
EC 4/30 Vexin Djibouti, Africa Mirage F1C (10)
EDA 1/36 Belfort Avord E-3F (2)
EDA 2/36 Nivernais Avord E-3F (2)
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 1/950Vaccares Mont-de-Marsan Crotale
ESDA 2/950 Sancerre Avord Crotale
ESDA 3/950 Lure Apt Crotale
ESDA 4/950 Servance Luxeuil Crotale
ESDA 5/950Barrois 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
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.
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)
ET 1/64 Beam Evreux C-160NG (11)
ET 2/64 Anjou Evreux C-160NG (11)
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)
Used for special missions.
GAM 56 Vaucluse Evreux AS 532 Cougar (3)