The French Ministry of the Armed Forces has ordered from Dassault Aviation seven maritime surveillance and intervention planes for the French Navy, with an option for five others to be confirmed in 2025. The order, valued at €1.3 billion, will be a breath of fresh air for the French manufacturer in a time of crisis for the aviation industry.
The plane, known as the Albatros, is based on the airframe of a Falcon 2000 business jet, upgraded with an array of special avionics. Among other types of equipment, it is fitted with a maritime surveillance radar developed by Thales, and an optronic detection pod made by Safran. Their intended mission is to counter drug trafficking, piracy, and illegal fishing, as well as assist in search and rescue operations.
“The Falcon 2000 Albatros is a high-performance aircraft equipped with the latest-generation mission and sensor system,” Eric Trappier, CEO of Dassault Aviation said in a statement. “Several countries are interested in these planes, which constitute an effective response to the considerable challenges of the protection and maritime security of the territory and of State action at sea.” Six Maritime Surveillance Falcon 2000s have already been sold to Japan. Other potential customers include Finland and New Zealand.
The maritime surveillance and intervention planes (AVSIMAR) of the French Navy will replace the aging fleet of militarized Falcon 50 and Falcon 200, which are nearing 40 years of service. The five Falcon 200 Gardian are currently based in the Pacific Ocean, namely in Tahiti, French Polynesia, and Nouméa, New Caledonia, while the eight Falcon 50M are based in Lorient, western France.
The development and production contract should secure 150 jobs in several sites of Dassault Aviation. In October 2020, the manufacturer had already received an order for 12 Rafale fighter jets from the French Ministry of the Armed Forces to replace the second-hand aircraft taken from the French Air Force inventory for the benefit of Greece.