French Naval Aviation

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Force maritime de l'aéronautique navale
French Naval Aviation
Roundel of the French Fleet Air Arm.svg
Cockade of Naval Aviation. The naval anchor on this insignia was generalized between 1940 and 1945.
Country France
Branch French Navy
TypeNaval aviation
Size6800 personnel; 179 aircraft[1]
Nickname(s)Sky Navy
La Marine du Ciel
Motto(s)Honneur, patrie, valeur, discipline
AnniversariesMarch 20, 1912
Contre-amiral Guillaume Goutay
French Navy
(Marine Nationale)
Naval Ensign of France
Motto: Honneur, Patrie, Valeur, Discipline
("Honour, Homeland, Valour, Discipline")
Naval Ministers
Maritime Prefect
Naval Action Force
Submarine Forces
Naval Aviation
FORFUSCO (Marine Commandos, Naval Fusiliers)
Maritime Gendarmerie
Current fleet
Current deployments
Ranks in the French Navy
History of the French Navy
Future of the French Navy
Ensigns and pennants
Historic ships
Historic fleets
Cross of War
Military Medal
Legion of Honour

French Naval Aviation (often abbreviated in French to: « l'Aéronavale », or « Aviation navale » or more simply « l'Aéro ») is the naval air arm of the French Navy. The long-form official designation is Force maritime de l'aéronautique navale. Born as a fusion of carrier squadrons and the naval patrol air force, the Aéronavale was created in 1912. The force is under the command of a flag officer officially named Admiral of Naval Aviation (ALAVIA) with his headquarters at Toulon naval base. It has a strength of around 6,800 military and civilian personnel. It operates from four airbases in Metropolitan France and several detachments in foreign countries or French overseas territories. Carrier-borne pilots of the French navy do their initial training at Salon-de-Provence Air Base after which they undergo their carrier qualification with the US Navy.

Aircraft inventory[edit]

Type Origin Class Role Introduced In service Total Notes
Aérospatiale Alouette III France Rotorcraft Utility 18 Retired.[2][3][1]
Breguet Atlantique II France Propeller MPA 22 [1]
Dassault Falcon 10 M France Jet Utility 6 [1]
Dassault Falcon 50 M France Jet Patrol 8 [1]
Dassault Falcon 200 Guardian France Jet Patrol 5 [1]
Dassault Rafale M France Jet Multi-role 42[4] [1][5]
Embraer EMB 121 Xingu Brazil Propeller Utility 11 [1]
Eurocopter SA365 Dauphin France Rotorcraft SAR 8 [1]
Eurocopter AS565 Panther France Rotorcraft Utility 16 [1]
Grumman E-2C Hawkeye USA Propeller AEW&C 3 [1]
Mudry CAP 10 France Propeller Trainer 7 [1]
NHIndustries NH90 Caiman Marine France Rotorcraft Attack/SAR 21 [1]
Westland Lynx UK Rotorcraft Attack 16 [1]


Active bases of the French naval air arm (status 2013).


The flight personnel of the French Navy falls into three categories: fighter aviation, fixed-wing aviation and helicopter aviation.

Operationally the French Naval Aviation has four components:


Operational squadrons are known as Flottilles and normally consist of 12 aircraft :

  • 1F to 10F are carrier based anti-submarine squadrons
  • 11F to 20F are fighter and attack squadrons
  • 21F to 30F are maritime patrol squadrons
  • 31F to 39F are helicopter squadrons

Shore-based training and transport squadrons are known as Escadrilles de Servitude :

  • 1S to 19S are communications squadrons
  • 20S to 29S are helicopters squadrons
  • 50S to 59S are training squadrons
Squadron Insignia Type Aircraft Base Role Notes
Embarqued Air Group (Le Groupe aérien embarqué)[6]
Blason de la flottille 4F.jpg
Fixed wing E-2C Hawkeye Lann Bihoue Carrier Airborne Early Warning [7]
Flottille 11F.png
Fixed wing Rafale M Landivisiau Strike Fighter [8]
Flottille 12F.png
Fixed wing Rafale M Landivisiau Strike Fighter [9]
Insigne 17F.jpg
Fixed wing Rafale M Landivisiau Strike Fighter [10] Ended conversion to Rafale M on June 2016.
Det. PEDRO Rotary Eurocopter AS365 Dauphin Hyères Plane guard Not part of the GAE. The Charles de Gaulle sets sail to cruises with 2 Dauphin helicopters from 35F.
Naval Patrol and Maritime Surveillance Aviation (l'Aviation de patrouille et de surveillance maritime)[11]
Blason 21F.jpg
Fixed wing Atlantique II Lann Bihoue Anti-Submarine Warfare / Naval patrol [12] Detachments at Dakar and Djibouti.
23F Fixed wing Atlantique II Lann Bihoue Anti-Submarine Warfare / Naval patrol [13]
24F Fixed wing Falcon 50 M Lann Bihoue Maritime surveillance / Search and Rescue [14]
25F Fixed wing Falcon 200 Guardian GAM Faa’a Maritime surveillance / Search and Rescue [15] Detachment at Nouméa.
Shipborne and Shore-based Helicopters (Les hélicoptères embarqués et basés à terre)
31F Rotary NH90 Caiman Hyeres Search and Rescue [16]
Emblème de la flottille 33F.jpg
Rotary NH90 Caiman Lanveoc Anti-Submarine Warfare / Search and Rescue [17]
34F Rotary Westland Lynx Lanveoc Anti-Submarine Warfare To convert to NH90 Caiman.[18]
35F Rotary Eurocopter AS365 Dauphin, Alouette III Hyeres Search and Rescue Detachments at La Rochelle, Le Touquet-Paris-Plage[19] and Faa’a.
36F Rotary Eurocopter AS565 Panther Hyeres Small ship flights [20]
Support Aviation (l'Aviation de soutien)
10S Rotary/ Fixed wing/UAV Alouette III, Westland Lynx, Schiebel S-100 Serval Hyeres Experimental Aviation and airborne weapons research and development, evaluation at several locations.
22S Rotary Dauphin, EC120 Colibri Lanveoc Rotary operational training / Liaison
Blason 28F.jpg
Fixed wing Embraer Xingu Lann Bihoue Naval patrol and maritime surveillance operational training / Utility / Liaison [21]
50S Fixed wing SR20 and CAP-10 Lanveoc Elementary flying training
57S Fixed wing Falcon 10 M Landivisiau Combat aviation operational training [22]


Retired Aircraft[23][24][edit]

From 1951 to 1956, 164 Grumman Avengers were delivered to French Naval Aviation. They remained in service until 1965.
The Corsair F4U-7 was the first new aircraft delivered to the French Navy after 1945. It saw action during the Indochina war, Algerian war and operation Musketeer.
The Martin P5M-2 Marlin served in the French navy between 1959 and 1964.
During the Algerian War of independence, the French Navy flew Lockheed Neptunes on surveillance patrol to fight weapons smuggling by sea.
The Crusader was the air superiority jet aircraft of the French navy for 35 years.
The Canard Voisin was the first seaplane used by the French Navy.

Helicopters and Autogyros[edit]

See also[edit]

References & notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "Defence Key Figures: 2016 Edition". (download PDF file or see HTML version Archived September 6, 2015, at the Wayback Machine.)
  2. ^ "En attendant le H160, l'armée va louer des Dauphin pour remplacer ses antiques Alouette".
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Flotilla 4F". French Navy. Retrieved 25 October 2016.
  8. ^ "Flottilla 11F". French Navy. Retrieved 25 October 2016.
  9. ^ "Flottilla 12F". French Navy. Retrieved 25 October 2016.
  10. ^ "Flottilla 17F". French Navy. Retrieved 25 October 2016.
  11. ^
  12. ^ "Flottilla 21F". French Navy. Retrieved 25 October 2016.
  13. ^ "Flottilla 23F". French Navy. Retrieved 25 October 2016.
  14. ^ "Flottilla 24F". French Navy. Retrieved 25 October 2016.
  15. ^ "Flottilla 25F". French Navy. Retrieved 25 October 2016.
  16. ^ "Flottilla 31F". French Navy. Retrieved 25 October 2016.
  17. ^ "Flottilla 33F". French Navy. Retrieved 25 October 2016.
  18. ^ "Flottilla 34F". French Navy. Retrieved 25 October 2016.
  19. ^ "Flottilla 35F". French Navy. Retrieved 25 October 2016.
  20. ^ "Flottilla 36F". French Navy. Retrieved 25 October 2016.
  21. ^ "Flottilla 28F". French Navy. Retrieved 25 October 2016.
  22. ^
  23. ^ "Military Factory - Site detailing past and present military systems and technology including aircraft, vehicles, guns and navy vessels of the world". Retrieved 2017-08-22.
  24. ^ "Office of the Historian". Retrieved 2017-08-22.

External links[edit]