French Air Force

Operator Profile

Key Facts

Current Title:
Armee de l'Air
English Title:
French Air Force
First Established:
ICAO Code:


Narrative Summary

The French military air arm was first established as the Service Aéronautique in 1909. It was renamed the Aeronautique Militaire in 1910, and in August 1933 it was renamed to its present title of Armee de l’Air. In 1942 the air force was disbanded under the German occupation, but reformed in May 1945 from the units of the Free French Air Force.

Air Force History

Key Dates

Air Force Timeline

Current Status

The French Air Force is fully operational.

Future Plans

Procurement of 228 Rafale to replace the Jaguar and then the Mirage F.1.
Procurement of 50 A400M transports to replace Transall C-160 from 2013.
Obtain a new air tanker aircraft, possibly the A330.


National Markings


Aircraft Serial Numbers

French Air Force aircraft carry French military serial numbers which are usually based on the manufacturers construction number for the airframe concerned. There is thus no overall numbering sequence, but a numbering sequence from 01 or 1 for each individual type. For example, MS.760 Paris 92 shares the same number as N.2501 Noratlas 92.

Unit/Base Codes

Most AdlA aircraft used to carry tactical code numbers of the form xx-AA, eg: Mirage 2000D 3-XE, where the first number denoted the Escadre (Wing), the first letter indicated the Escadron (Squadron) and the second letter denoted the individual aircraft.
In 2009 a new system was introduced, whereby the first number is now the Base Aerienne number, followed by a two letter code, e.g. Mirage 2000N 125-AR of EC 02.004.


Aircraft Designations

Explanation of role designation suffixes to be added

Current Aircraft Inventory

Table of Current Service Aircraft

All-Time Aircraft Used List

All-Time Table of Aircraft Used

Aircraft NOT Used

False reports of aircraft on order or in service


Main Headquarters

Etat-Major De l’Armee de l’Air, 26 Boulevard Victor, F-75996, Paris.

Organisational Structure

Under the Air 2010 reorganisation plan the Air Force command structure was reorganised into five major commands:
CFAS – Commandement des Forces Aeriennes Strategique (Strategic Air Forces Command)
CFA – Commandement des Forces Aerienne (Air Command)
CDAOA – Commandement de la Defence Aerienne et des Operations Aeriennes (Air Defence & Air Operations Command)
CSFA – Commandement du Soutien des Forces Aériennes (Air Force Support command)
DRHAA – Direction des Resources Humaines de l’Armee de l’Air (Human Resources Directorate)
Basic operational units are the Escadre (Wing), Escadron (Squadron) and Escadrille (Flight).

Current Order of Battle

Table of Current Order of Battle

Historical Orders of Battle

Historical Order of Battle for 2008

All-Time Flying Units List

List of Flying Units

Air Bases

Current Air Bases

See organisation table above.

All-Time Air Bases Used List

In addition to the main bases, there are also a number of smaller airports and airfields around the country which are sometimes used by the Air Force.
Military Air Bases Listing – to be added.

More Information


French Military Aviation by Paul A. Jackson (Midland Counties, 1979)
European Air Forces Directory 2012/13 (Mach III)
Les avions allemands aux couleurs françaises vols 1/2 (Airdoc/Lela Presse)


World Air Power Journal No.10 p.136
Air Forces Monthly January 1998


Official French Air Force website

wikipedia: French Air Force
wikipedia: Free French Air Force
wikipedia: Vichy French Air Force

Scramble: French Air Arms

Air-Britain Photos: French Air Force

The French Air Force in 1940

Any further photographs illustrating this air arm would be welcome.

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