The need for a general-purpose medium-range transport by both the Luftwaffe and the Armeé de l'Air resulted in a joint venture designed called the Transall C.160 with main contractors being Aérospatiale for France as well as Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm (MBB) and WFW-Fokker for Germany. The C.160 is a conventional transport, similar in appearance and role as the C-130 Hercules although the C.160 is slightly smaller and with only two engines. With specially designed landing-gear and airbrakes, the C.160 was capable of operating in rough airstrips with STOL capability (they are also capable of carrying reverse thrust turbojets under the wings). Other than those built for France and Germany, C.160s were built for Turkey and South Africa. Newer upgrades to these aircraft featured more advanced avionics and range enabling some examples to serve as inflight-refuelling tankers in the Armeé de l'Air.
The first C.160 prototype was flown on 25 February 1963. The major production variants included the C.160D for the Luftwaffe and the C.160F for the Armeé de l'Air. A major modification effort led to the newer C.160NG (Nouvelle Génération) with newer avionics and an inflight-refuelling probe. Other versions include the C.160H Astarté communications relay aircraft and the C.160G Gabriel for signals intelligence while foreign units are designated C.160T (Turkey) and C.160Z (South Africa).