With opening of a test center in the Pacific in 1964, the French Air Force was obliged to acquire new equipment capable of providing logistical support over long distances. At first a four-engined Douglas DC-8 was acquired in January 1966 to be implemented by the ministerial air liaisons group (GLAM).
On 1st May 1968, the GLAM reorganized itself resulting in the creation of the 2/60 "Esterel" transport squadron being established at the Air Base of Velizy-Villacoublay. The new squadron was assigned to perform several types of missions: Liaison between Paris and Polynesia for the support of nuclear testing centers and long-range cargo missions in support of the President of the Republic.
The symbolism of the squadron is therewith easy to explain: A DC-8 background to the earth and a line around the globe that runs through France.
The following July a second DC-8 reinforced the squadron, followed by a third aircraft of the same type arriving in June 1972. Two years later (March 1974) the three moved from Le Bourget to Roissy, more adapted to passengers handling. A fourth DC-8 joined the squadron in 1976 to cope with the increasing flight activity. Finally, in 1980, two new DC-8 were acquired, while the fleet as a whole got new engines. Inbetween these years the squadron also used several machines Sud-Aviation Caravelle 11 R, the first passenger plane to be working with trust reversal.
The year 1990 saw a sharp increase in the units activities to support the French forces, distributed around the world despite the discontinuation of nuclear tests in the Pacific.
In 1994 the offices and staff of the squadron headed towards the - just being reactivated - Creil Air Base, near to the airport Paris-Charles de Gaulle.
The latest Caravelle operated in this unit from 1988 to 1992. One year later "Esterel" received first two two Airbus A310, followed by a third one in 2001. During the same period of time, the DC-8 were decommissioned – last one was used in 2004. Finally in 2006 the squadron got two Airbus A340-200, which provided a significant improvement regarding technology and capacities.
In addition to the support of the armed forces, the "Esterel" moved to intervene for all strategic airlift ordered by the French authorities, particularly in the case of air evacuation or relief missions due to natural disasters. As such the crews of "Esterel" are often described as “those, who go where others will not.”
Text and pictures taken from SIRPA website