Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S), the procurement agency of the British Ministry of Defence, announced that it would procure two Dassault Falcon 900LX corporate jets from the company Centreline. The contract is valued at £80 million ($108 million).
They will replace the four BAe 146 currently used by the No. 32 Squadron of the Royal Air Force for the short-haul transport of VIPs, including the British Royal Family.
“The new planes will be more sustainable thanks to their smaller engines, leading to a reduction in fuel burn and emissions,” DE&S explained. “They will also be able to fly further, providing the UK greater opportunity to engage with key allies and partners.”
Powered by three Honeywell TFE731-60 turbojets, the 900LX has a maximum range of 4,750 nm (8,800 km) and a maximum speed of Mach .84, according to its manufacturer.
“The two-phase programme will see the aircraft initially operated by a mixed crew of civilian and RAF personnel,” DE&S added. “The aircraft will be upgraded with military modifications such as defensive aid suites and military communications to deliver full capability and crewed by purely RAF personnel.”
The Falcon 900LX will become the first Dassault and fourth French airplane to be operated by the Royal Air Force. The last models date back to the final years of the First World War, when three biplane fighters, the SPAD S.VII and S.XIII, and the Nieuport Scout were adopted by the Royal Flying Corps, one of the two corps that would later become the Royal Air Force.