The Daily Telegraph
FRANCE, MISTRESS OF THE AIR.
A few weeks ago it was stated in Parliament that France has 128 air squadrons in Europe. The number of squadrons in Africa and Asia, and their strategic distribution, was not given. Various estimates have been published; but according to authoritative information I obtained in Paris France will have a total of 220 squadrons by the end of the present year; and 2,200 aeroplanes “in the first line” was the number specifically stated, with proportionate reserves, and with the necessary transport, medical, and other auxiliary services. The French Government is actuated by the following considerations. The strategic situation of France makes her more open to attack by land and sea than any other Western Power. As her military power diminishes it is necessary that her air power be increased; and to that end time, energy, and money are being expended on aviation in a proportion that may seem out of all reason. In the last three years France has trained, on an average, 800 pilots a year; and has called up for service with the colours 250 pilots annually. Of the 2,400 pilots trained since 1919 some 40 per cent are lost to the army upon completion of their military service, whereas half of the remainder will be of value throughout the period during which they are available for annual military service – five years – and the others will adopt the army as a career. In five years there will be available upon mobilisation 1,000 pilots, and in the time necessary to complete a “refresher” course a further l,000. The war reserve of the air service is about 4,800 aeroplanes of various types, with the necessary means of supply and maintenance. And there is a big potential reserve in the busy aircraft industry.