The Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, and her German counterpart, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, signed an agreement on August 30, 2021, formalizing the creation of a Franco-German transport squadron from September 1, 2021.

The squadron will operate four French and six German C-130J transport aircraft. Half of the fleet will be the refueling variant of the Hercules, the KC-130J. 

It will be based in Évreux-Fauville Air Base, northwest of Paris, France. Led by a French officer, the squadron will be composed of 260 service members. 

“The aim is to strengthen the interoperability of the two armed forces,” the two defense ministries explained in a joint statement on September 2, 2021. “When operating the C-130J fleet, French and German soldiers will work in mixed teams.”

The squadron, which has not received its name yet, will not reach initial operational capability before the autumn of 2022, with the German Air Force is not expected to receive its first C-130J until February 2022. 

The idea of setting up a bi-national transport squadron emerged after both France and Germany had ordered C-130J Hercules transport aircraft from the US manufacturer Lockheed-Martin to fill a capacity gap. 

The French Air Force was affected by the delays of Airbus in developing the tactical capabilities of the A400M, while the German Luftwaffe was retiring its Transall C-160s.

Meanwhile, the British Royal Air Force is moving on with the retirement of its own fleet of C-130J aircraft, as it reviewed positively the performance of the Airbus A400M during the evacuation of Afghanistan.

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The Royal Air Force is satisfied with the Airbus A400M performance during the Afghanistan evacuation and will not postpone the retirement of the C-130 Hercules.