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France and West Germany elected to 'go it alone' in terms of tactical transport, building the C-160 jointly rather than buying Hercules. Although slightly smaller, the Transall fills the role admirably. In French services, it has adopted the inflight-refuelling, electronic reconnaissance and radio relay roles.

The Transall C-160 first flew in 1963. Production was completed in 1972, but in 1977 the program was reinstated to produce a "new generation" C-160 for France. The last of these new generation aircraft entered service in 1987. The wings are high-mounted and equally tapered outboard of the engines with blunt tips. Two turboprop engines are mounted under and extend beyond the wings' leading edges. The fuselage is long, thick, and tapered to the rear with a round, solid nose, stepped cockpit and upswept tail section. The tail flats are mid-mounted on a thinned body, equally tapered with blunt tips. The fin is tall and tapered with a blunt tip and a fairing in the leading edge.

The two-engine C-160 airplane is similar to the C-123 in appearance and performance. Like the C-130, the Transall is a versatile veteran from the 1960s and a workhorse in numerous air forces, including French, German, Turkish and South African. The C-160 can carry 55 paratroopers or up to 14 tons of cargo at a maximum speed of 319 mph and be aerial re-fueled in its role in the country's rapid deployment Force Aerienne de Projection. Two Rolls Royce MK22 turboprops power the Transall. The Transall, which entered the French Air Force in 1967, is scheduled to be replaced by the European A400M, a four-engine tactical aircraft larger than the Hercules.

C-160 Gabriel

The C-160 Gabriel configures an ELINT subsystem provided by Thomson-CSF Radars &Contre-Mesures for detection, analysis and location of radar sources with a COMINT subsystem provided by Thomson-CSF Communications for detection, interception, classification, listening-in, analysis and location of radio transmitters. Thomson-CSF Radars &Contre-Mesures has developed complete SIGINT electronic intelligence systems for integration on board aircraft such as DC-8, Boeing 707, C-160, Transall and C-130.

C-160 Gabriel

Typical mission Electronic and photo intelligence
Builder team : Aerospatiale / Thomson-CSF
First flight : April 1981
In-service in French Air Force : 1989
1 intelligence fleet with 2 C-160 Gabriel (Metz)
Maximum speed : 515 kph at 16,000 ft
Crew : 14 including 9 operators
Special equipment : Electromagnetic intelligence gathering device
Main user countries : No authorisation for exportation
NATO interoperability : Yes

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