The French Air Force has officially welcomed the first of two new C-130J airlifters which it has ordered, along with two KC-130J aerial refuellers.
Florence Parly, France's minister of the Armed Forces, officially welcomed the country's first C-130J Super Hercules aircraft to the 62st Transport Wing of the French Air Force with a ceremony at Orléans-Bricy Air Base on 15th January. The aircraft arrived in France shortly before Christmas.
France will receive a total of four Super Hercules aircraft — two C-130J-30 combat delivery airlifters and two KC-130J aerial refuelers — through a Foreign Military Sale with the U.S. government.
The second C-130J is scheduled for delivery in the second quarter of 2018, followed by the two KC-130Js in 2019. The KC-130Js will be able to perform in-flight refuelling of French Air Force H225M Caracals.
The first C-130J-30 airlifter was formally delivered to France in December 2017 at the Lockheed Martin facility in Marietta, Georgia, in the United States.
France first acquired C-130Hs in 1987 and its new C-130Js will be operated with its existing Hercules fleet. France is the 17th country to choose the C-130J for its airlift needs.
The aircraft will be operated as part of a new joint Franco-German transport unit, which will operate out of the French AF base at Evreux. The new unit will also comprise six German C-130Js, which have been ordered to bridge the gap after the C-160 is withdrawn from service in 2021.