The final French Air and Space Force Transall C-160G Gabriel capped off a 33-year flying career with an intense three-month deployment. Babak Taghvaee details the type’s last months
At the beginning of 2022, the Armée de l'Air et de l'Espace (AAE; French Air and Space Force) was anticipating retiring its final two Transall C-160G Gabriels on May 20. However, any chance of a gradual drawdown of this type was quickly abandoned following Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine in the early hours of February 24. By this time, the Gabriel force was down to a single aircraft as F221 had been retired and stored at Châteaudun Air Base at the end of January.
As NATO member states worked quickly to protect the military alliance’s eastern flank, France’s sole C-160G, F216, was deployed to Bucharest in Romania, where it would log more than 206 flying hours across 44 sorties between early March and the end of May.