No replacement for Ukraine's An-124 Ruslan: French troops face lack of cargo aircraft
France is grappling with a shortage of long-range transport aircraft for deploying troops, a problem that has recently become more pressing
Defense Express writes about it.
French Air Force Chief of Staff General Stéphane Mille expressed his concern to the French parliament about the lack of a quick solution for airlifting troops over long distances. In the past, France relied on Ukrainian An-124 "Ruslan" planes chartered through the SALIS program for such operations. Obviously, now the availability of these aircraft has significantly decreased, and they are nearing the end of their service life. France hasn't found an alternative on the foreign market either.
The report notes that in the past, the French military could easily charter Ukrainian "Ruslans" through the SALIS program or other wide-body aircraft like the An-22 or even Russian IL-76 operators for long-distance troop and cargo transport. But these options are no longer available.
In 2017, former deputy François Cornut-Gentille had already warned the parliament and the Ministry of Defense about France's heavy reliance on external "strategic air transport" and the need for corrective measures.
Currently, the French military only has access to the A300-600ST Beluga transport aircraft, which are not suitable for military cargo transport. Airbus previously worked on the A380-800F cargo plane project, capable of carrying up to 150 tons, which could have been a solution to France's "strategic air transport" problem. However, this project was discontinued in 2007, but the article suggests it might be worth revisiting.