PARIS --- On Thursday, October 15, 2020, Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly visited the Atelier Industriel de l'Aéronautique* (AIA) in Clermont-Ferrand, three years after she announced a reform of the military’s operational sustainment (MCO) during a speech in Evreux.
She presented the first encouraging results which confirm a clear improvement in the performance of the MCO. However, this progress is part of a fundamental reform which will give its full potential over time.
What is maintenance in operational condition?
Maintenance in operational condition brings together all the activities (logistics, repairs) that ensure the operational availability of airplanes, helicopters and drones of the three services. MCO is therefore a necessary condition for the efficiency of our operations.
Why was a reform of MCO initiated?
In 2017, the situation of the aeronautical MCO was very degraded compared to the resources invested: the availability of aircraft was less than 50%. This situation greatly reduced the freedom of action of our forces by limiting training of our pilots, while complicating the good performance of operations. Our operational efficiency was therefore directly impacted by this situation.
What did the reform of the MCO consist of?
The reform launched in December 2017 first led to the creation of the Aeronautical Maintenance Department (DMAé). The contractual strategy was completely revised and now involves the end-to-end responsibility of a prime contractor. In addition, the efficiency of state-owned maintenance resources has also been improved.
What results have been achieved at this stage?
The improvement of our aeronautical MCO is now tangible:
-- In 2017, fewer than three A400Ms were available. Today, more than six are (with one-off peaks of 11 aircraft available out of a total of 17 aircraft).
-- In 2017, fewer than five Caracals were available. Today, more than eight machines are.
-- In 2018, Army Fennec helicopters flew 2,500 hours. In 2020, they flew over 5,000 hours with cost per flight hour halving.
These advances are significant and promising. However, these are the beginnings of a long-term work which must now be continued and completed.
* This AIA is one of the 4 main workshops that make up the Industrial Service of Aeronautics (SIAé - 5,000 people) attached to the Chief of Staff of the Air Force. The AIA works for the 3 armies by providing heavy maintenance (aircraft repair and maintenance capacity).