Dassault Aviation looks to highlight the maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) heritage of its Falcon Family
The Falcon family has also displayed exceptional versatility and longevity, one of the reasons that it has been widely used for special mission aircraft. An estimated 10 per cent of the worldwide Falcon fleet are used for special missions and Falcon MPAs have been acquired by the US, Japan and France amongst other countries.
The majority of us are more familiar with Dassault Aviation’s defence offerings in the Mirage 2000 and Rafale, however, the firm sells more business jets than it does combat fighters! Dassault Aviation has had a presence for more than six decades in India, while the Falcon family recently celebrated five decades of operation.
Speaking to FORCE last year, Thierry de Poncins, International Sales Director Falcon Business Jets said, “We are in special mission aircraft and we have a large fleet operational around the world, though we don’t speak too much about it. Our priority is to deliver to VIP customers, corporations and individuals. But we have a lot of aircraft that are used for medical evacuation, maritime patrol, target towing etc.”
Dassault Aviation offers two main maritime versions of the Falcon, Falcon 2000 multi-mission Maritime Reconnaissance Aircraft (MRA) and Falcon 900 Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA). Aero India 2015 saw Dassault displaying a model of its Falcon 2000 MRA, which it says can be used for “surveillance, reconnaissance, anti-surface, electronic warfare or training of fleet”.
The Falcon 2000 MRA is a new development, introduced just a few months ago in November 2014 for a French Navy requirement. It can be easily deployed for overseas missions or on remote and isolated airfields. The basic configuration consists of two pilots and two observers; the aircraft being fitted with very long range multimode air-to-surface radar with dedicated air-to-sea modes, a retractable Electro-Optic turret (FLIR), providing a 360 degree coverage, multi-function workstations with automatic analysis functions, equipped with colour displays and a communication suite, including a SATCOM. An enhanced configuration option allows for four observers. An estimated 500 Falcon 2000s have been delivered till date across all users and the type has logged more than 1.8 million flight hours.
The Falcon 2000 series has been in particularly strong demand in India with corporate users due to its large cabin, exceptional flexibility, low operating costs and range, which allows passengers to fly from the southern tip of India to the north in a single hop. The company has had a presence in India for more than two decades and an estimated 20 Falcons are already in country, shared across Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Delhi.
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