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French Air Force / Armée de l'Air - Organization

Project Air 2010 was the heart of a proactive approach, which ended January 1, 2008, for a streamlining of the command organisation aimed at:

  • refocusing the staff of the air force on its branch, pilotage and prospective tasks;
  • consolidating staff positions contributing to the same functions in the same structures to gain in efficiency, to reduce the cost of operation and to facilitate future modifications, in coherence with the projects of modernization of the State;
  • opening up the business and to promote networking of these entities interconnected and decentralised in-house, in joint, interdepartmental and coalition), in order to master the complexity of current and future challenges;
  • lightening structures by decreasing the number of intermediate hierarchical levels in order to gain in reactivity;
  • simplifying structures and get a better readability, a guarantee of good connectivity with all stakeholders of defence and security, military or civilian, French or allied;
  • facilitating the performance management to focus all resources to operational purpose and action;
  • decentralizing command structures.

The Air Force is characterized by three hierarchical levels and four complementary chains of command. The High Command comprises the Chief of Air Staff (CEMAA = Chef d'État Major de l'Armée de l'Air), assisted by his central administration staff and subordinate units.

Following a 5 October 2009 decree, the Chief of Staff of the Air Force (CEMAA = Chef d'État Major de l'Armée de l'Air) is officially tasked with assisting and advising the Chief of Staff of the Armies (CEMA = Chef d'État Major des Armées) and thereby provide his expertise about forces under his command. He is tasked with the training of forces, submitting concepts and doctrines as well as developping mobilization plans of both personnel and equipment. In addition to the testing and evaluating of equipment, the CEMAA is also responsible for the administration of personnel and defining the needs of the Air Force and maintaining Air Force units' operational readiness.

Prior to 2009, the CEMAA was directly subordinate to the Minister of Defence, whom he assisted in his duties relating to the operational readiness of the Air Force. He was adviser to the CEMA concerning the commitment of air assets and the conduct of air operations.

French Air Force Organizational Chart (as of Oct. 2012)

The French Air Force is task-organized along four axes:

  1. Readiness: Under the purview of the Air Forces Command (CFA = Commandement des Forces Aériennes) which is tasked with preparing Air Force units to fulfil their mission
  2. Operational: Split amongst two separate commands depending on the mission.
    • Combat & Air Defense mission: Air Defence and Air Operations Command (CDAOA = Commandement de la Défense Aérienne et des Opérations Aériennes)
    • Nuclear & Strategic mission: Strategic Air Command (CFAS = Commandement des Forces Aériennes Stratégiques)
  3. Support & Logistics: Falls under the authority of the Air Force Support Command (CSFA = Commandement du Soutien des Forces Aériennes). In addition with infrastructures, logistics, equipment and transport, it is also tasked with providing and maintaining Information Technology and communications systems. The CSFA is further organized into 4 separate brigades:
    • Technical & Logistical Brigade
    • Infrastructure Brigade
    • Information Technology and Communications Brigade
    • Personnel Support Brigade
  4. Manpower management: Human resources/personnel management supervised by the Air Force Human Resources Directorate (DRHAA = Direction des Ressources Humaines de l'Armée de l'Air)


As of late 2010, the Air Forces Command was divided into four major brigades:

  • Air Combat Brigade (Brigade Aérienne de l'Aviation de Chasse (BAAC)). The BAAC is responsible for all combat, air assault and reconnaissance aircraft.
  • Air Support and Projection Brigade (Brigade Aérienne d'Appui et de Projection (BAAP)). The BAAP is responsible for all transport and liaison aicraft (both fixed-wing and rotary wing aircraft).
  • Air Traffic and Control Brigade (Brigade Aérienne de Contrôle de l'Espace (BACE)). The BACE is in charge of all air-based (E-3F aircraft) and land-based airspace management/surveillance, as well as communications networks.
  • Security and Invervention Forces Brigade (Brigade Aérienne des Forces de Sécurité et d'Intervention (BAFSI)). The BAFSI comprises Air Force personnel tasked with both combat operations (Air Force commandos) and support operations (base security and firefighters).


The Air Force base is the level at which all the links from the various commands (operational and organic) are brought together. Thus, it plays a crucial role in the functioning of the Air Force. The Base Commander has authority over all the units that are stationed on the base (this can include from 600 to 3,500 personnel). He is responsible for maintaining operational effectiveness and for the execution of orders regarding specific missions.

The operational role of the Air Force relies on an organization that is adapted to the flexibility and mobility of air power supported by the necessary infrastructure and logistics chain. Thus, the flying units remain as light and mobile as possible, ready to be deployed rapidly in the knowledge that the support required to enable them to accomplish their missions will be provided. The Air Force applies the same concepts to overseas units by establishing mobile support units which deploy with their parent combat units.

Pre-2010 French Air Force Organization


The very nature of air power demands a flexible organization in order to allow «ad hoc» task forces (occasionally joint task forces) to be assembled, according to the type of crisis and the nature of the operation. Such task forces are composed of elements drawn from organic (specific) assets. They are placed under the authority of an operational command, which is responsible to the Joint Chief of Staff, and tailored to meet a specific task. The organization of the French Air Force provided the necessary operational flexibility and a command structure adapted to the use of military force whilst ensuring coherent planning of air operations, unified tasking and the most effective use of resources. The organization was meant to assign the missions and deployment of the Air Force to be the responsibility of the Operational Commands while its operational readiness were to depend on the Organic Commands. The latter role also included the Air Regions that are responsible for the support of air bases and the units attached to them. The Air Force has units throughout France, as well as in its overseas territories and foreign countries.


A 26 avril 2007 decree abolished the regional subdivision of the French Air Force, organizing at the national level, effective 1 January 2008.

As of 1 July 2000, it was organized into two Air Regions:

  • Region North (Région Aérienne Nord (RAN))
  • Region South (Région Aérienne Sud (RAS))

As of 14 July 1991, it was divided into three Air Regions:

  • the North-East Air Region (RANE = Région aérienne Nord Est), with its headquarters at Villacoublay;
  • the Atlantic Air Region (RAA = Région aérienne atlantique), with its headquarters at Bordeaux-Mérignac;
  • the Mediterranean Air Region (RAM = Région aérienne méditerranée), with its headquarters at Aix-les-Milles.


The organic (specialised) chain of command was previously comprised five major commands:

  • Air Combat Command (CFAC = Commandement de la Force Aérienne de Combat);
  • Air Mobility Command (CFAP = Commandement de la Force Aérienne de Projection);
  • Air Surveillance, Information and Communication Systems Command (CASSIC = Commandement Air des Systèmes de Surveillance, d'Informations et de Communications);
  • Air des Systèmes de Surveillance, d'Information et de Communication);
  • Air Force Education and Training Command (CEAA = Commandement des Écoles de l'Armée de l'Air);
  • Air Force Ground Security Command (CFCA = Commandement des Fusiliers Commandos de l'Air).

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Page last modified: 28-04-2013 19:19:19 ZULU