French Army orders three Falcons to Dassault
Dassault Aviation announced that the Ministry of Armed Forces ordered three of their Falcon business planes. They should be refitted with the Universal Electronic Warfare Capability (UEWC) developed by Thales, named Epicure Program. The Epicure Falcons should replace the two Transall C-160 “Gabriel” currently used by the French Air Force. The type of Falcon bought has not yet been disclosed.
The role of this type of plane is to detect electromagnetic signals. With such informations, the French army is then be able to evaluate the number and type of enemy forces in order to use the appropriate electronic protections and countermeasures, as explained by General Lanata, Chief of Staff of the French Air Force in July 2017. He was at the time advocating for a quick start of the UEWC program.
The new system that required 10 years of development by Thales is capable of detecting simultaneously both radio and radar emissions. Two planes were initially supposed to be fitted with that system, but the Ministry of Armed Forces decided to buy a third one. The three Epicure Falcons should come in service to replace the C-160 in 2025 (two years later than advised by General Lanata).
The new military planning law also plans to equip the six American MQ-9 Reaper drones currently in service in the French Air Force with an “electromagnetic intelligence system” by 2020. The number of Light reconnaissance and surveillance aircrafts has also been increased from the two originally ordered to Thales and Sabena Technics to six. The choice has been made to use Beechcraft King Air 350, like the Royal Air Force.
Those orders mark the clear wish of the French Air Force to upgrade its Electronic Warfare capacities.
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