C-160 Transall cargo aircraft

The C-160 Transall aircraft are twin turboprop transporters in service with the air forces of France, Germany and Turkey. The aircraft is a cantilever high-wing monoplane and is configured for transportation, paratroop drop, electronic surveillance, airborne communications relay and medical evacuation.

The companies MBB, Nord Aviation and VFW formed the Transall group in 1959 for the development and production of the C-160 for the air forces of France, Germany, South Africa and Turkey. Production of the aircraft by the three companies ended in 1972, with 169 aircraft having been delivered.

In 1976, responsibility for production of the aircraft was given to Aerospatiale in France and MBB (now DaimlerChrysler Aerospace) in Germany.

Both companies are now part of EADS (European Aeronautics Defence and Space). Production of the aircraft from 1976 to 1985 included updated avionics, a reinforced wing housing and additional fuel tanks.

The C-160 fleets of France, Germany, South Africa and Turkey will be replaced by the Airbus Military A400M transport when that enters service from 2012. France has 55 aircraft still in service, Germany 80 and Turkey 20. South Africa has retired its C-160 fleet.

C-160H Astarte communications relay aircraft

Four communications relay aircraft, designation C-160H Astarte, were delivered to the French Air Force between 1981 and 1987. The aircraft’s main mission was communications with the submerged nuclear ballistic missile submarines of the French fleet. The aircraft were equipped with unjammable VLF communications including a Rockwell VLF transmitter and a Thales communications centre. The VLF system includes dual trailing wire antennae.

The French Air Force retired the C-160H Astarte aircraft in 2002.

C-160 Gabriel ELINT electronic surveillance aircraft

The C-160 Gabriel aircraft is an upgraded electronic surveillance version in service with the French Air Force. Thales developed the signals intelligence (sigint) system. The main cabin houses the workstations and computer systems for ten elint (electronic intelligence) and comint (communications intelligence) mission crew.

In September 2008, Thales was awarded a contract to upgrade the ELINT system.

C-160 upgrade programmes

An upgrade programme for the French Air Force C-160 was completed in 1999. All C-160 Transall aircraft were upgraded with modern avionics suite and new anti-missile countermeasures between 1994 and 1999. The upgraded cockpit is equipped with a new head-up display and an upgraded electronic warfare suite, with a radar warning receiver, missile approach warner and chaff and decoy dispensers.

“The main cabin can be fitted to carry 93 troops or up to 68 fully equipped paratroops.”

The aircraft have been fitted with a new EFIS 854 TF Electronic Flight Instrumentation System, which includes an electronic attitude director indicator (EADI) and electronic horizontal situation indicator (EHSI). A flight management system with two Gemini 10 computers and a new radio management system have been installed. Three new sensors have also been installed for aircraft position and attitude control: an inertial reference unit (IRU), an attitude and heading reference unit (AHRU), and a global positioning system (GPS).

German Air Force C-160D are upgraded with BAE SYSTEMS high integration air data computer (HIADC), Northrop Grumman (Litton) ALR-68 radar warning systems and Rockwell Collins FMS-800 Flight Management and Global Positioning System. 21 aircraft have also been fitted with an EADS countermeasures suite, Northrop Grumman AN/AAR-54(V) missile warning system and chaff / flare launcher.


The air-conditioned and pressurised cockpit accommodates four crew: the pilot and co-pilot, the flight engineer, and the navigator. The pressurisation and air-conditioning system is supplied by Normalair-Garrett.


The main cabin can be fitted to carry 93 troops or up to 68 fully equipped paratroops. For medical evacuation, the cabin can accommodate 62 stretcher patients.

In the cargo transporter role, the aircraft can carry a maximum payload of 16,000kg, including armoured vehicles, tanks and palletised or unpalletised loads. The floor is fitted with lashing points rated at 5,000kg on a 20in grid pattern. Lashing points rated at 12,000kg are fitted in the side walls of the cabin. The aircraft wheels can be raised in order to lower the fuselage for loading and unloading. Vehicles are driven into the cabin and an automated translation and stowing system is used for loading and unloading of cargo items which are not driven.

“The C-160 transporter aircraft can carry a maximum payload of 16,000kg.”

Loads up to 8,000kg can be air-dropped. The aircraft can carry out low-level altitude drops at altitudes between 10ft and 30ft, and touch-and-go drops in which the aircraft briefly touches the runway without landing.


The aircraft is powered by two Rolls-Royce Tyne Rty.20 mk22 turboprop engines, each rated at 4,549kW. The engines drive four-blade, reversible-pitch, constant-speed BAe 4/8000/6 propellers, built by Ratier Figeac in France.

The fuel system includes four wing tanks with a capacity of 19,000l, an optional wing centre section tank with a capacity of 9,000l and a single-point pressure refuelling system. The aircraft is equipped with an in-flight refuelling probe mounted above and behind the flight deck.


The C-160 can climb at the rate of 6.6m/s. The never exceed speed is 593km/h. The C-160’s maximum speed is 513km/h. Its stall speed is 177km/h. Its normal range and ferry range are 1,853km and 8,858km respectively. The service ceiling is 8,230m. The aircraft weighs 29,000kg, while the maximum take-off weight is 51,000kg.

The Global Military Aircraft Market 2011-2021

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