The French Air Force is replacing its C-160 Transall aircraft in Niger with C-130J Super Hercules ahead of the Transall’s retirement.
On 31 July, a C-130J took over from a C-160 at Niamey, Niger, in support of the French-led Operation Barkhane. According to the French defence ministry, the C-160 is bowing out of foreign operations after more than 50 years of service, and will no longer be permanently present in Niger.
“The C130J arrived in France in December 2017 and we are at a new stage in its ramp-up, with this permanent detachment in Niamey. We can’t wait to show the capabilities of our aircraft in the Sahelo-Saharan Band,” said Captain Romain.
The C-130J will carry out the missions previously accomplished by the Transall but also offer new possibilities in the air operations of the Barkhane force. “For the moment, the capacities that will be exploited are air transport (freight and passengers) for example between two places such as Niamey and Gao, and landing on rough terrain, like Tessalit or Ménaka,” Romain said. The C-130J will also be used for paratrooping and cargo drops as well as in-flight refuelling.
In 2019, intra-theatre air links represented 4 120 tonnes of freight and 27 500 people transported, the French defence ministry said.