SAR-optimised Falcon 50M

France’s Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA or Directorate General of Armament) accepted the irst Dassault Falcon 50M optimised for the search and rescue (SAR) role on November 29, 2018.

The Falcon 50M, upgraded by Dassault, features a speciallydesigned hatch to enable the deployment of SAR equipment. At the handover event at Bordeaux- Mérignac the DGA also signed a contract with Dassault for the modiication of the remaining three similar Falcon 50Ms in the Aéronavale (French Naval Aviation) leet. The remaining three aircraft are expected to be delivered back to the Aéronavale in 2019 (two aircraft) and one in 2020.

The Aéronavale has a leet of eight Falcon 50s, the irst of which entered service in March 2000. Four aircraft, designated Falcon 50Mi (intervention), are already SAR-dedicated and capable of dropping equipment, including markers and buoys. The other four, designated Falcon 50M Surmar, were modiied from the baseline Falcon 50B coniguration between 2013 and 2016. Modiications included observation windows, the Thales Ocean Master 100 radar and a multi-spectral sensor, but until now did not have a SAR capability.

All eight aircraft are assigned to the Aéronavale’s 24 Flotille (24F) based at BAN Lann-Bihoué, near Lorient. Nigel Pittaway