Three years ahead of plan, the French Air Force will retire its two C-160 Gabriel signals intelligence (SIGINT) aircraft in 2022. Primarily this has to do with the phasing out of the C-160 Transall, which the Gabriel is built on, and not because of the mission suite the Gabriel flies.
Before entering service towards the end of the 1980s, two C-160s were upgraded and outfitted with Thales mission equipment. The aircraft took part in the Gulf War in 1991, as well all the subsequent French overseas military interventions. They have fought the so-called Islamic State (IS) in Syria and Iraq, as well as IS and Al Qaeda in the Sahel, in recent years. They also operate in close proximity to Russia on a regular basis.
The planes were supposed to be phased out in 2026 and 2028, respectively, until the announcement in 2018 that they will be phased out in 2025. Their replacement, the Archangel, a Falcon 8X that Dassault Aviation has heavily modified, is not slated to arrive until 2026 at the earliest. By 2030, three planes will be delivered.