DGA Contracts Dassault, Thales for French Air Force ARCHANGE SIGINT Aircraft Program

French defense procurement agency, DGA has announced the contract award to Dassault Aviation and Thales to develop French Air Force’ new ARCHANGE Signal Intelligence (SIGINT) aircraft.

According to DGA (Direction générale de l’armement, Directorate General of Armaments), the contract for the first two aircraft was awarded on Dec. 30, 2019.

The French Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, announced the launch of the new ‘ARCHANGE’ strategic intelligence aircraft program on Nov. 8, 2019.

The ARCHANGE (Avions de Renseignement à CHArge utile de Nouvelle GEnération) program is being launched under the French CUGE (Capacité Universelle de Guerre Electronique, Universal Electronic Warfare Capability) requirement to strengthen the French Armed Forces’ electronic intelligence (ELINT) capabilities. The program is led by DGA.

The new-generation ARCHANGE intelligence aircraft will be based on the Dassault Aviation’s Falcon 8X business jet.

“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 it”, said Eric 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.”

All the sensors constituting the payload onboard the aircraft will be developed by Thales. The CUGE payload will feature innovative technologies such as multi-polarization antennas and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to improve automatic processing and will detect and analyze enemy radar and communication signals.

“The ability to anticipate developments is key to national security, and reliable intelligence is, therefore, a critical requirement to understand the risks and inform operational decisions. Thales, in partnership with Dassault Aviation, is proud to support the French armed forces on this strategic programme, which will bring the country new intelligence capabilities by developing the successor to the Transall Gabriel as part of Europe’s defences”, said Nadim Traboulsi, ARCHANGE program director for Thales.

Three of these aircraft will replace the two Transall C-160G “Gabriel” SIGINT electronic surveillance aircraft operated by the French Air Force (Armée de l’air)’s Airborne Electronic Warfare Squadron (Escadron électronique aéroporté 1/54 Dunkerque, EEA 00.054 Dunkerque) based at Évreux-Fauville Air Base.

The first system is scheduled to be delivered to the Air Force in 2025. The new aircraft will also be based at Évreux-Fauville Air Base.

Dassault Falcon 8X

The Falcon 8X is Dassault Aviation’s largest and longest-range business jet which was announced at the European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (EBACE) in May 2014.

The aircraft was developed from Dassault’s older Falcon 7X large-cabin business trijet. Falcon 8X has a range of 6,450 nautical miles (11,945 km) compared to Falcon 7X’s 5,950 nmi range and has a cabin 1.1 m (3.5 ft) longer than the 7X.

The Falcon 8X is powered by three Pratt & Whitney Canada PW307D turbofan engines which deliver 5% more (29.9 kN) thrust compared to 7X’s PW307A engines while lowering fuel consumption. They also reduce NOx emissions 30% below today’s most stringent standards.

Dassault claims the Falcon 8X to be 35% more fuel-efficient than its competitors due to improvements to wing design and engines.

The aircraft’s cockpit features a 3rd Generation of EASy Flight Deck on based Honeywell Primus Epic System. It also features Honeywell’s next-generation 3D color weather radar system with enhanced turbulence detection capability.

The Falcon 8X also features the FalconEye combined vision system, enabling it to fly approaches under reduced visibility conditions with exceptional safety and reliability because of the combined display with a map based on amplified infrared images collected by the airplane itself. FalconEye was certified in 2018 for approaches under low visibility up to 100 feet.

The business jet version can carry 8 passengers and 3 crew members.

Exported to more than 90 countries, the Falcon aircraft are flexible and economical to fly. Their handling qualities, aerodynamics, and versatility render them capable of fulfilling missions that go beyond civil aviation standards.

Over the last 50 years, Dassault Aviation has customized many Falcons for purposes such as medical evacuation, cargo transport, maritime surveillance, electronic warfare, etc. These multirole aircraft represent about 10% of the Falcon fleet in service across the world.



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