The French Air Force “Armée de l’Air” have a long connection with Ireland being regular visitors for rugby matches and Training/VIP flights using a variety of aircraft types, mostly interestingly over the last two years with Boeing C-135FR’s which undertake multi-sector mission training across Europe, making Dublin one of the R&R stops.

The C-135FR’s Stratotankers are under the command of the Strategic Air Command called ‘CFAS’ based at Istres, in 2004 this unit was renamed 93 “Bretagne” (GRV 93 or Flight Refuelling Group 93) operating a total of 14 units which have both fuelling and transport capability, enhancing their operational flexibility.

The unit purchased 11 aircraft directly from Boeing and three second-generation USAF KC-135R’s in the late 1990s.

The 93 “Bretagne” Group further enhanced the operational flexibility of the aircraft in 2008 through the development of “Morphee” medical system, to provide on-board medical care, the installation process takes less than ten hours, a key resource for France with it’s NATO global commitments in Afghanistan and Libya providing support to Rafales to enforce the No Fly Zone in operation ‘Odyssey Dawn’.

These aircraft have undergone a series of modifications to extend their life, with AFI-KLM being awarded a contract to upgrade the fleet with the aircraft having being completed in earlier this year; the modification programme is due to be complete by 2013.

In 2009 the French Air Force awarded Easterline CMC Electronics to install the latest Flight Management System (FMS), known as the CMA-9000; the IntegriFlight ™ CMA-5024 Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver as well as a Fuel Management Panel for the avionics upgrade of the French Air Force’s C-135FR and KC-135R fleet of fourteen tanker aircraft.
The upgrade involved the installation of dual CMA-9000 FMSs providing Precision Area Navigation (PRNAV) capability; a single GPS receiver providing Space Based Augmentation System (SBAS) / Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) navigation capability; and a new Fuel Management Panel (FMP).


French Air Force C-135FR/KC135’s @ Dublin
738 C-135FR 17/18TH September 2011
736 C-135FR 20TH February 2011
F-UKCI/93-CI 25th June 2009
471 C-135FR 7th March 2009

Let’s hope there will be many more visits from this unit, as a 707 airframe is an increasing rare sight in Irish Skies, with the modification programme having extended their life.

Irish Aviation Research Institute © 21st September 2011 All Rights Reserved.