Dassault Flies with the Angels

Dassault’s Archange airborne strategic intelligence aircraft is based on the Falcon 8X trijet.

Recent sales of Rafale fighters and a military version of Falcon 8X business jet have raised spirits at Dassault in the face of a difficult past year. However, as of December 31, the Falcon backlog was stable, at 53 – the same figure as one year before. 

The downward trend in bizjets began in 2014, leading to 41 deliveries last year, a figure four below the hoped-for tally. It was as long ago as 1996 that Falcon deliveries stood below that number, and the 24-year average is close to 60. 

Last year, Dassault delivered a total 12 Rafales and on December 31, the backlog stood at 75 Rafales, including 28 for the French forces. Egypt, which in 2015 signed the first Rafale export contract, had the last of its 24 fighters delivered in July. Deliveries to Qatar are in full swing, and the first handover to India took place in October. 

Boosting the Falcon’s fortunes on the penultimate day of 2019 was an order from the French Defense Procurement Agency (DGA) for the Archange (archangel) airborne strategic intelligence program, comprising three Dassault Aviation Falcon 8Xs equipped with the Thales new-generation payload CUGE (universal electronic warfare capability). A contract has been awarded for the first two aircraft.  

“I am very proud and happy with the decision of the Ministry of the Armed Forces. The Archange Falcon will serve the French forces in the same way as the Falcons 10, 200, 50, 2000, 900 and 7X are already doing,” declared Éric Trappier, chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation. “The special-mission Falcons provide the perfect illustration of the dual competences of Dassault Aviation: our civil aircraft benefit from the cutting-edge technologies developed for our combat aircraft, which in return benefit from the industrial processes deployed for the highly competitive production of the Falcon aircraft.”  

The Archange name perpetuates the theme of an angelic acronym employed by the current Gabriel system it will replace, comprising two Transall C-160Gs operated by the French Air Force’s Escadron Électronique Aéroporté 1/54 Dunkerque, based at Évreux.