French Naval Aviation

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French Naval Aviation
Force maritime de l'aéronautique navale
Founded20 March 1912
Country France
Branch French Navy
TypeNaval aviation
Size6,800 personnel; 178 aircraft[1][2]
Nickname(s)Sky Navy
La Marine du Ciel
Motto(s)Honneur, patrie, valeur, discipline
Commanders
Current
commander
Contre-amiral Eric Janicot
Insignia
RoundelRoundel of the French Fleet Air Arm.svg
French Navy
(Marine Nationale)
Naval Ensign of France
Motto: Honneur, Patrie, Valeur, Discipline
("Honour, Homeland, Valour, Discipline")
Command
Naval Ministers
Maritime Prefect
Components
Naval Action Force
Submarine Forces
Naval Aviation
FORFUSCO (Marine Commandos, Naval Fusiliers)
Maritime Gendarmerie
Equipment
Current fleet
Current deployments
Personnel
Ranks in the French Navy
History
History of the French Navy
Future of the French Navy
Ensigns and pennants
Historic ships
Historic fleets
Awards
Cross of War
Military Medal
Legion of Honour
Ribbons

French Naval Aviation (often abbreviated in French to: Aéronavale, or Aviation navale, or more simply l'Aéro) is the naval air arm of the French Navy. The long-form official designation is Force maritime de l'aéronautique navale. Born as a fusion of aircraft carrier squadrons and the naval patrol air force, the Aéronavale was created in 1912. The force is under the command of a flag officer officially named Admiral of Naval Aviation (ALAVIA) with his headquarters at Toulon naval base. It has a strength of around 6,800 military and civilian personnel. It operates from four airbases in Metropolitan France and several detachments in foreign countries or French overseas territories. Carrier-borne pilots of the French Navy do their initial training at Salon-de-Provence Air Base after which they undergo their carrier qualification with the US Navy.

Aircraft inventory[edit]

Type Origin Class Role Introduced In service Total Notes
Bréguet Atlantique II France Turboprop ASW 22 [2]
Dassault Falcon 10 M France Jet Utility 6 [2]
Dassault Falcon 50 M France Jet Patrol 8 [2]
Dassault Falcon 200 Guardian France Jet Patrol 5 [2]
Dassault Rafale M France Jet Multirole 42[3] [2][4]
Embraer EMB 121 Xingu Brazil Turboprop Utility 11 [2]
Eurocopter AS365 Dauphin France Rotorcraft SAR 15 [2]
Eurocopter AS565 Panther France Rotorcraft Utility 16 [2]
Grumman E-2C Hawkeye USA Turboprop AEW&C 3 [2]
Mudry CAP 10 France Propeller Trainer 7 [2]
NHIndustries NH90 Caïman Marine France Rotorcraft ASW/SAR 26 [2]

Structure[edit]

Active bases of the French naval air arm (status 2013)

Immediately after the end of the World War II, the Aeronavale only had Supermarine Seafire Mk.III (Flottille 1F) and Douglas SBD Dauntless dive bombers (Flotilles 3F et 4F).

Components[edit]

The flight personnel of the French Navy falls into three categories: fighter aviation, fixed-wing aviation and helicopter aviation.

Operationally the French Naval Aviation has four components:

Units[edit]

Operational squadrons are known as Flottilles and normally consist of 12 aircraft :

  • 1F to 10F are carrier based anti-submarine squadrons
  • 11F to 20F are fighter and attack squadrons
  • 21F to 30F are maritime patrol squadrons
  • 31F to 39F are helicopter squadrons

Shore-based training and transport squadrons are known as Escadrilles de Servitude :

  • 1S to 19S are communications squadrons
  • 20S to 29S are helicopters squadrons
  • 50S to 59S are training squadrons
Squadron Insignia Type Aircraft Base Role Notes
Embarqued Air Group (Le Groupe aérien embarqué)[5]
4F
Blason de la flottille 4F.jpg
Fixed wing E-2C Hawkeye Lann Bihoué Carrier airborne early warning [6]
11F
Flottille 11F.png
Fixed wing Rafale M Landivisiau Strike fighter [7]
12F
Flottille 12F.png
Fixed wing Rafale M Landivisiau Strike fighter [8]
17F
Insigne 17F.jpg
Fixed wing Rafale M Landivisiau Strike fighter [9] Ended conversion to Rafale M in June 2016.
Rotary Eurocopter AS365 Dauphin Hyères Plane guard Not part of the GAE. Charles de Gaulle set sail on cruises with two Dauphin helicopters from 35F.
Naval Patrol and Maritime Surveillance Aviation (l'Aviation de patrouille et de surveillance maritime)[10]
21F
Blason 21F.jpg
Fixed wing Atlantique 2 Lann Bihoué Anti-submarine warfare / Naval patrol [11] Detachments at Dakar and Djibouti.
23F Fixed wing Atlantique 2 Lann Bihoué Anti-submarine warfare / Naval patrol [12]
24F Fixed wing Falcon 50 M Lann Bihoué Maritime surveillance / Search and rescue [13]
25F Fixed wing Falcon 200 Guardian GAM Faa'a Maritime surveillance / Search and rescue [14] Detachment at Nouméa.
Shipborne and Shore-based Helicopters (Les hélicoptères embarqués et basés à terre)
31F Rotary NH90 Caïman Hyères Search and rescue [15]
33F
Emblème de la flottille 33F.jpg
Rotary NH90 Caïman Lanvéoc Anti-submarine warfare / Search and rescue [16]
34F Rotary Westland Lynx Lanvéoc Anti-submarine warfare Disbanded 4 September 2020. Planned to re-activate in 2021 operating leased Dauphins as temporary equipment.[17] To convert to NH90 Caïman.[18]
35F Rotary Eurocopter AS365 Dauphin, Alouette III Hyères Search and rescue Detachments at La Rochelle, Le Touquet-Paris-Plage[19] and Faa'a.
36F Rotary Eurocopter AS565 Panther Hyères Small ship flights [20]
Support Aviation (l'Aviation de soutien)
10S Rotary/ Fixed wing/UAV Alouette III, Westland Lynx, Schiebel S-100 Serval Hyères Experimental Aviation and airborne weapons research and development, evaluation at several locations.
22S Rotary Dauphin, EC120 Colibri Lanvéoc Rotary operational training / Liaison
28F
Blason 28F.jpg
Fixed wing Embraer Xingu Lann Bihoué Naval patrol and maritime surveillance operational training / Utility / Liaison [21]
50S Fixed wing SR20 and CAP-10 Lanvéoc Elementary flying training
57S Fixed wing Falcon 10 M Landivisiau Combat aviation operational training [22]

Retired aircraft[edit]

This is a list of retired aircraft that has flown with French Naval Aviation.[23]

From 1951 to 1956, 164 Grumman Avengers were delivered to French Naval Aviation and in service until 1965
The Corsair F4U-7 was the first new aircraft delivered to the French Navy after 1945. It saw action during the Indochina war, Algerian war and operation Musketeer.
The Martin P5M-2 Marlin served in the French navy between 1959 and 1964.
During the Algerian War of independence, the French Navy flew Lockheed Neptunes on surveillance patrol to fight weapons smuggling by sea
The Crusader was the air superiority jet aircraft of the French Navy for 35 years
The Canard Voisin was the first seaplane used by the French Navy

Helicopters and autogyros[edit]

See also[edit]

References & notes[edit]

  1. ^ "World Air Forces 2019". Flightglobal: 16. Retrieved 7 August 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Defence Key Figures: 2016 Edition". Defense.gouv.fr. Archived from the original on 27 November 2016. Retrieved 10 December 2016. (download PDF file or see HTML version Archived 6 September 2015 at the Wayback Machine)
  3. ^ "Press Conference" (PDF). Dassault Aviation. 19 July 2018. Archived (PDF) from the original on 20 July 2018. Retrieved 20 July 2018.
  4. ^ "Press Conference" (PDF). Dassault Aviation. 26 July 2017. Archived (PDF) from the original on 8 August 2017. Retrieved 8 August 2017.
  5. ^ "Le groupe aérien embarqué" (in French). Marine Nationale. Archived from the original on 26 February 2018. Retrieved 25 February 2018.
  6. ^ "Flotilla 4F". French Navy. Retrieved 25 October 2016.
  7. ^ "Flottilla 11F". French Navy. Retrieved 25 October 2016.
  8. ^ "Flottilla 12F". French Navy. Retrieved 25 October 2016.
  9. ^ "Flottilla 17F". French Navy. Retrieved 25 October 2016.
  10. ^ "L'aviation de patrouille et de surveillance maritime" (in French). Marine Nationale. Archived from the original on 26 February 2018. Retrieved 25 February 2018.
  11. ^ "Flottilla 21F". French Navy. Retrieved 25 October 2016.
  12. ^ "Flottilla 23F". French Navy. Retrieved 25 October 2016.
  13. ^ "Flottilla 24F". French Navy. Retrieved 25 October 2016.
  14. ^ "Flottilla 25F". French Navy. Retrieved 25 October 2016.
  15. ^ "Flottilla 31F". French Navy. Retrieved 25 October 2016.
  16. ^ "Flottilla 33F". French Navy. Retrieved 25 October 2016.
  17. ^ Allport, Dave (October 2020). "French Navy retires Lynx". Air International. Vol. 99 no. 4. p. 11. ISSN 0306-5634.
  18. ^ "Flottilla 34F". French Navy. Retrieved 25 October 2016.
  19. ^ "Flottilla 35F". French Navy. Retrieved 25 October 2016.
  20. ^ "Flottilla 36F". French Navy. Retrieved 25 October 2016.
  21. ^ "Flottilla 28F". French Navy. Retrieved 25 October 2016.
  22. ^ "Escadrille 57S" (in French). Ministère des Armées. Archived from the original on 26 February 2018. Retrieved 25 February 2018.
  23. ^ "Office of the Historian". history.state.gov. Archived from the original on 21 August 2017. Retrieved 22 August 2017.
  24. ^ Grolleau, Henri-Pierre (8 September 2020). "French Navy retires Lynx from service". janes.com.

External links[edit]