The Transall C-160 (often C.160 or simply Transall) is a military transport aircraft, designed and produced as a joint venture between France and Germany. Transall is an abbreviation of the specially formed consortium Transporter Allianz, comprising the companies of MBB, Aerospatiale and VFW-Fokker. It was initially developed to meet the requirements for a modern cargo aircraft for the French and German Air Forces; export sales were also made to South Africa and to Turkey, as well as a small number to civilian operators.
The C-160 proved to be a long-lasting design, remaining in service more than 50 years after the type's first flight in 1963. It has provided logistical support to a number of overseas operations and deployments; and has also served in specialist roles such as an aerial refueling tanker, electronic intelligence and communications platform.
The C-160 will be replaced in French and German service by the Airbus A400M Atlas.
In April 1976, the French Air Force used 12 C-160s in support of Operation Verveine, airlifting Moroccan troops and equipment to Zaïreduring a border conflict with Angola. In May 1978, several C-160s dropped paratroopers of the French Foreign Legion during the Battle of Kolwezi.
In 1977, the French Air Force ordered an updated version designated C-160NG, for Nouvelle Génération ("New Generation"). From 1981, 29 of these aircraft were delivered, half of them configured as tanker aircraft for aerial refuelling. Another four were configured as C-160H Astarté TACAMO aircraft for communication with submerged submarines, a vital component of France's nuclear deterrent system.
In a final conversion, two aircraft were furnished for SIGINT electronic surveillance, designated C-160G Gabriel, replacing the Noratlases that had been in this role previously.[N 1] In routine operations, the C-160Gs would often supplement France's Boeing E-3 Sentry AWACSaircraft. In 1991, a SIGNIT-equipped C-160G was deployed as part of France's contribution to Coalition forces during and after the Gulf War to support a no-fly zone and embargoing of Iraq.