The Transall C-160 is a military transport aircraft developed by a consortium
of French and German aircraft manufacturers for the air forces of those two
nations and that of South Africa.
The C-160 was originally conceived as a replacement for the Armée de l'Air's
Nord Noratlas fleet. It is turboprop-powered and of conventional configuration
for aircraft of this type, with high wings, and a loading ramp built into the
rear of the fuselage. Size-wise, it falls between the Aeritalia G.222 and the
Three prototypes flew in 1963, followed by pre-production machines in 1965 and
production machines from 1967. The first batch included 110 C-160Ds for the
Luftwaffe, 50 C-160Fs for the Armée de l'Air, and 9 C-160Zs for the South
African Air Force, 4 C-160Fs were converted to air mail transport aircraft, they
were operated by Air France and given the designation C-160P. Production
continued until 1972 with French aircraft built by Aérospatiale and German
aircraft by Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm.
In 1977, the Armée de l'Air ordered an updated version (designated C-160NG, for
Nouvelle Generation - "New Generation"). From 1981, 29 of these aircraft were
delivered, half of them configured as tanker aircraft for aerial refuelling.
Another 4 were configured as C-160H TACAMO aircraft, for communication with
submerged submarines. Finally, 2 more were converted to SIGINT electronic
surveillance aircraft, designated C-160G Gabriel, replacing the Noratlases that
had been in this role previously. While still new, the C-160Gs took part in the
Gulf War of 1991.
From 1994 to 1999, all French C-160s underwent an avionics upgrade and the
addition of new anti-missile countermeasures. The C-160Fs and NGs so updated
were redesignated C-160R (Renove - "renovated"). Luftwaffe machines have
similarly undergone life-extension programmes by BAE Systems, but all French and
German machines are reaching the end of their service lives as of 2004. All
South African machines have already been retired, while the Turkish Air Force
continues to operate 20 machines obtained from Germany (C-160T).