French Naval Aviation

Operator Profile

Key Facts

Current Title:
Aeronautique Navale
English Title:
French Naval Aviation
First Established:
ICAO Code:


Narrative Summary

1910 first Naval officers sent for flying training. 1910 formation of Service Aeronautique. 12 March 1912 creation of Commandement Superieur de l’Aviation Maritime. 1925 Aeronautique Maritime formed, later renamed Aeronautique Navale. 10 May 1940 onwards Naval units operated in tactical role supporting land forces. June 1940 Vichy naval aviation under German control. 1944 French control of naval aviation restored. November 1956 major participant in Suez campaign.

Key Dates

1910    First French begin flying training
1910    Service Aeronautique established
12 March 1912    Renamed Service de l’Aeronautique de la Marine
1925    Renamed Aeronautique Maritime
12 March 1912    Renamed Service de l’Aeronautique de la Marine
1925    Renamed Aeronautique Maritime
19??    Renamed Aeronautique Navale
10 May 1940    Support to land forces in Battle of France
June 1940    Vichy France under German control
1944    French regain control of naval air arm
1955    First helicopters received – Sikorsky H-19
November 1956    Major participant in Suez Campaign
1958    First production jet aircraft delivered – MS.760 Paris
7 May 1994    Nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle launched

Current Status

The aircraft and helicopters of the French Navy are fully operational.

Future Plans

No plans known.


Special Markings


Aircraft Serial Numbers

French Navy 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, Super Etendard 46 shares the same number as Alize 46.

Unit/Base Codes

Until baout 1960 all Aeronavale aircraft carried a unit code on the fuselage. This was of the format number.letter.number, e.g. TBM-3 Avenger 9.F.26, where the unit was Flotille 9F and the individual aircraft number was 26.


Aircraft Designations

None – Manufacturers designations used

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

Service Centrale de l’Aeronautique Navale, 2 Rue Royale, 75800 Paris.

Organisational Structure

The three major components of the Aeronavale are: Service Central de l’Aeronautique Navale (Central Aviation Services), Aviation de Patrouille Maritime (Maritime Air Patrol) and Aviation Embarquee et le Groupe des Porte-Avions (Embarked Aviation). The navy is geographically divided into Atlantic Region (HQ Brest) and Mediterranean Region (HQ Toulon). Frontline units are Flotilles (Squadrons), second line units are Escadrilles de Servitude (Support Flights).

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 current order of battle.

All-Time Air Bases Used List

In addition to the main base, a number of smaller airports and airfields around the country which are sometimes used by the Navy.
Military Air Bases Listing – to be added.
Aircraft-Carrying Ships Listing – to be added.

More Information


French Military Aviation by Paul A. Jackson (Midland Counties, 1979)
European Air Forces Directory 2012/13 (Mach III)


World Air Power Journal No.10 p.148
Air International March 1997


Official Homepage of the Aeronavale

wikipedia: French Navy
wikipedia: French Naval Aviation
wikipedia: Liste des escadrilles et flottilles de l’aviation navale

Scramble: French Air Arms

Air-Britain Photos: French Navy

Les Helicopteres de l’Aeronautique Navale

French Fleet Air Arm

Aeroforum Aeronautique Navale

Mer et Marine

Aeronautique Navale



French Wings

Any further photographs illustrating this air arm would be welcome.

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