Why France chose the Archangel after retiring the C-160G Gabriel

When France retired its Gabriel intelligence aircraft the search began for a replacement. Thomas Withington reveals how it was decided to switch to the Dassault Falcon 8X Archangel

May 22, 2022 was a sombre one for many on the Evreux airbase in northern France. This was the day the 54th ‘Dunkerque’ Electronic Warfare (EW) squadron formally retired its two TransportAllianz C-160G Gabriel Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) planes – a pair of tireless workhorses.

The first C-160F Transall series freighter entered the Armée de l’Air’s (French Air and Space Force, FASF) service in 1967, the C-160G SIGINT aircraft arrived 22 years later in 1989. Their most recent missions were flown last March over eastern Romania. These were almost certainly to collect SIGINT regarding the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine.

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