Dassault Aviation confirmed the rumors that followed news of strife around the Franco-German Maritime Airborne Warfare Systems (MAWS) program. As it presented its latest financial results, the French manufacturer revealed it would offer the Marine Nationale, French Navy, to convert its Falcon 10X into a Maritime Patrol Aircraft.
In 2018, Germany and France conjointly agreed to develop a new naval patrol plane, the Maritime Airborne Warfare System. The Deutsche Marine needs to replace eight Lockheed P-3C Orion aircraft, constructed in the 1980s, while the 22 Dassault Breguet Atlantique 2 of the Marine Nationale are also in need of replacement.
But Germany eventually decided to retire its P-3C fleet earlier than expected and in March 2021, it unilaterally chose to acquire five Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, turning down a counter-offer from Paris which would have provided 4 Atlantique 2 aircraft.
While the German side presented that order as an ‘interim solution’, the French authorities are currently “reconsidering their position regarding the continuation” of the MAWS program, Joël Barre, General Delegate for Armaments, told the French Parliament.
The MAWS, a failure?
Dassault is visibly already preparing for France to walk away from the program. While no official announcement has been made, the manufacturer bluntly qualified the MAWS as a “failure” in its latest financial report and confirmed it would propose a maritime patrol aircraft based on the Falcon 10X platform.
Unveiled in early May 2021, the Falcon 10X is the latest addition to the Falcon business jet family, and the largest business jet of the French manufacturer to date.
“The Falcon 10X will offer an unrivaled passenger experience over both short- and long-duration flights, along with breakthrough safety features from Dassault’s frontline fighter technology,” commented Dassault Chairman and CEO Eric Trappier at the time. “We have optimized every aspect of the aircraft with the passenger in mind and established a new level of capability for ultra-long-range aircraft.”
In addition to the Rafale Marine carrier-borne fighter, the French Naval Aviation already operates several Dassault platforms. Militarized versions of the Falcon 10, 20 (200 Gardian), and 50 participate in surveillance and rescue missions within the French maritime territory, pilot training, and the transportation of authorities.
A modernization campaign of 18 Atlantique 2 maritime patrol aircraft, bringing them up to the standard 6, is still ongoing and should be completed by 2024. Additionally, in November 2020, the French Ministry of the Armed Forces ordered seven Albatros maritime surveillance and intervention planes based on Dassault’s Falcon 2000 LXS business jet for the French Navy.
In January 2020, Dassault was also awarded the Archange airborne strategic intelligence program by the French Air and Space Force, which will see three Falcon 8X being fitted with Thales electronic intelligence technologies.