The C-235 in the French Air Force
06/09/2011: During the Airbus Trade Media event in Spain in mid-May, Commandant David Spieles of the French Air Force provided an overview of how the French Air Force used the C-235 and their plans for the evolution of the fleet. The core point really revolved around the relative ruggedness of the aircraft and the ability to maintain the aircraft in austere locations.
In response to an SLD question, Spieles indicated that the normal deployment to an austere location would be two months. And to support the aircraft, they would take five mechanics, and carry with them 2-3 tons of spare parts.Spieles indicated that for the French “it is a worldwide asset. You can find everywhere in the world, including in the Caribbean.”
Photo Credit: French Air Force
As an air transport, it can hold up to 44 pax or up to 4 pallets of 10,000 lbs. standard. It can carry 28 paratroopers and three jump masters, or 32 VIP seats of civilian standards. And as a Medevac transport it can carry the stretchers and equipment for 12 wounded. The range of operation of the aircraft can cover most of Europe which when placed on the world map means that it can cover most of the regions to which it is deployed. In other words, it has good range for the missions for which the French Air Force is tasking it.It is a rugged aircraft. And its readiness rate is around 70%. The average flight hours per year per aircraft are around 550 and for the pilots around 290 per year,
It has been used in a variety of overseas operations starting with Rwanda in 1996 and is currently being used to support the Libyan operation as well, but not over Libyan territory. It can operate well off of unpaved strips but requires a minimum landing area of 1000 meters by 30 meters.The officer discussed the very specific French approach to using the aircraft to support French helicopter ground refueling in austere locations. He concluded by noting that currently they have 19 C-235-200s in the fleet and plan to add eight. This fleet will be used as a complement of the A400M fleet to provide for tactical capabilities.