French Army Aviation

Operator Profile

Key Facts

Current Title:
Aviation Legere de L'Armee de Terre
English Title:
French Army Light Aviation
First Established:
ICAO Code:


Narrative Summary

From 1943 several observation units had been formed with American assistance within the Free French Air Force, for artillery spotting using light aircraft. At the end of the war, these units were greatly reduced in numbers. The war in Indochina showed once again the importance of these units and in March 1953 a degree of autonomy within the Air Force was achieved with the creation of the Aviation Legere d’Observation d’Artillerie (ALOA). On 22 November 1954 these units became a wholly Army-maintained force called the Aviation Legere de L’Armee de Terre (ALAT). It’s main roles are reconnaissance, attack and transport.

Key Dates

1943    Artillery observation units formed in FFAF.
3 March 1953    Aviation Legere d’Observation d’Artillerie created within AdlA
1953    First helicopters received – Bell 47D
22 November 1954    French Army air arm officially established

Current Status

The ALAT aircraft and helicopters are fully operational.

Future Plans

No plan known.


National Markings

Current — Historical

Aircraft Serial Numbers

French Army aircraft carry French military serial numbers which are usually based on the manufacturers construction number for the airframe concerned, e.g. SA.330B Puma 1062. In addition, each aircraft carries a 3-letter code, e.g. AZE for the same Puma, which corresponds to it’s radio callsign – with letters in the range F-MAAA to F-MIZZ.

Unit/Base Codes

The radio callsigns carried by ALAT aircraft and helicopters were originally allocated in blocks to specific units, but in 2009 the ALAT started to switch over to allocating the blocks to specific aircraft types. Thus the unit can no longer be inferred from the callsign displayed.


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

Commandement de l’ALAT, 78129 Villacoublay-Air.

Organisational Structure

The basic unit of ALAT is the Regiment d’Helicopteres de Combat (RHC). Each of which comprises:
One Escadrille de Commandement et des Services (ECS – HQ Squadron)
One Escadrille de Soutien et de Ravitaillement (ESR – Supply and Provision Squadron)
One Escadrille d’Helicopteres de Reconnaissance (EHR – Recce Squadron)
One or two Escadrille d’Helicopteres d’Appui Protection (EHAP – Strike Helicopter Squadron)
Three Escadrille d’Helicopteres d’Attaque (EHA – Attack Helicopter Squadron)
One Escadrille d’Helicopteres de Manoeuvre (EHM – Assault Transport and Heavy Lift Squadron)

Regional liaison squadrons are designated Groupe d’Helicopteres Legers (GHL)

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 Order of Battle listing.

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 Army.
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)


World Air Power Journal No.10 p.152
Air Forces Research Nos.10, 11 & 12


Official Homepage of the French Army

wikipedia: French_Army

Air-Britain: French Army photos

Any further photographs illustrating this air arm would be welcome.

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