Home > Aircraft > TRANSALL C-160 Transall


Tactical transport aircraft


The TRANSALL C-160 remains in service more than 50 years after its first flight

Entered service 1967
Crew 3 men
Dimensions and weight
Length 32.4 m
Wing span 40 m
Height 11.65 m
Weight (empty) 29 t
Weight (maximum take off) 51 t
Engines and performance
Engines 2 x Rolls-Royce Tyne Rty.20 Mk.22 turboprop
Engine power 2 x 6 100 shp
Maximum speed 513 km/h
Cruising speed 495 km/h
Service ceiling 8.23 km
Range (with 8.5 t payload) 5 000 km
Range (with 16 t payload) 1 850 km
Ferry range 8 850 km
Maximum payload 16 t
Troops 93 men
Vehicles ?
Cargo compartment dimensions 17.2 x 3.15 x 2.98 m


   The C-160 military transport aircraft was jointly developed and produced by West German and French companies. An agreement between two countries to development a new aircraft was signed in 1957. Italy was also involved in the early stages of the project, but later left the project in favor for their indigenous aircraft. In 1959 a Transporter Allianz consortium was formed (TRANSALL). It comprised of Nord Aviation of France and Weser Flugzeugbau and Hamburger Flugzeugbaug of West Germany. A new tactical aircraft was required to carry 16 t of cargo over a range of 1 720 km, or a load of 8 t over a range of 4 540 km. It was also required that the aircraft could operate on semi-prepared airstrips. The new aircraft made its first flight in 1963. Production commenced in 1965. First production aircraft were delivered in 1967. Originally this cargo aircraft was intended for French and West German air forces. However it has also been exported to Indonesia (6 units), South Africa (9 units, now retired) and Turkey. Production ceased in 1985. A total of 214 aircraft were built. Despite its age this aircraft still remains in service with Germany (60), France (50) and Turkey (20). The C-160 aircraft approach the end of their service lives. These are due to be replaced by the new Airbus A400M Atlas. However if necessary operational lifetime of the C-160 aircraft can be extended to 2018.

   The TRANSALL C-160 was designed to perform cargo, troop transport and medical evacuation missions. During more than 50 years of service the C-160 has provided logistical support to a number of deployments and operations.

   The C-160 is powered by two Rolls Royce Tyne turboprop engines, developing 6 100 shp each. These drive four-bladed propellers. A twin-engine configuration was selected over four-engine configuration in order to reduce unit and production costs. Also twin-engined aircraft has a simplified design and is more reliable. Furthermore it is lighter and uses less fuel.

   This aircraft is operated by a crew of three, including two pilots and one flight engineer. It can carry 93 troops or 61 to 88 paratroops. Alternatively it can carry 62 stretchers. The TRANSALL C-160 has a payoad capacity of 16 t. With maximum payload it has a range of 1 850 km. Also it can carry 8.5 t payload across a range of 5 000 km. Typical loads include wheeled or tracked vehicles, light or medium towed artillery pieces and standard pallets with cargo. This tactical aircraft can operate directly from frontline positions. It can land on airstrips as short as 400 m and take of from airstrips as short as 700 m. It can also operate from semi-prepared airstrips.

   Payload capacity and dimensions of the TRANSALL C-160 are broadly similar to that of the American Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules tactical transport aircraft. However the four-engined Hercules has a higher top speed and much longer range.

   During their operational life these aircraft were constantly upgraded. Modifications include new navigation and flight control systems, autopilot, Kevlar armor, missile approach warning system, chaff/flare dispensers, electronic warfare self-protection system.

   It proved to be a versatile aircraft. The C-160 has served in specialist roles, such as electronic intelligence and communications platform, aerial refueling tanker.




   C-160D variant for West German Air Force (110 built);

   C-160F variant for the French Air Force (50 built);

   C-160P civilian mail transport aircraft. Four C-160F aircraft were converted for this role. These were operated by Air France (4 built);

   C-160NG (Nouvelle Generation or New Generation) an improved French version. It is a second generation production aircraft. These were ordered in 1977 and produced since 1981. These aircraft have additional fuel tanks in the wing center section. This version can carry 28 000 liters of fuel comparing with 19 000 liters of the original C-160F. Also it has an in-flight refueling probe. Cargo door on the left side was deleted. These aircraft were also fitted with updated avionics. A total of 29 C-160NG cargo aircraft were built for the French Air Force. Half of them were configured as aerial refueling tankers. Plus there were additional 4 non-standard aircraft for special missions. Further 6 C-160NG aircraft were built for Indonesia;

   C-160R (Renove) some French C-160F aircraft upgraded to C-160NG standard;

   C-160G (Gabriel) French electronic reconnaissance aircraft. It can be easily distinguished by antennas fitted to the aircraft. It is a further development of the C-160NG;

   C-160H ASTARTE. In French Air Force it is referred as Airborne Relay Station For Special Transmissions. These aircraft was used for communication with submerged French nuclear submarines. These aircraft were operational until the early 2000s. It was also based on the C-160NG;

   C-160T. These aircraft are operated by Turkish Air Force. 20 of these were delivered in 1971;

   C-160Z variant for South African Air Force (9 built). All of these aircraft were delivered in 1969 and 1970. Now all of these planes are retired.


Video of the TRANSALL C-160 tactical transport aircraft










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