The new electronic warfare aircraft, called Falcon Epicure, is based on a Dassault Falcon jet and equipped with an advanced Thales sensor.

France selects Falcon Epicure replacement C-160G
France selects the replacement of the C-160G Gabriel electronic warfare aircraft.

The French Minister for the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, announced a new strategic electronic intelligence aircraft program to replace the two aging Transall C-160G Gabriel aircraft, Feb. 28.

He explained that the future aircraft, called Falcon Epicure, will be equipped with a new sensor that will allow the simultaneous interception of radio and radar emissions. This new sensor developed by Thales will be integrated into three Dassault Falcon aircraft.
Currently, the Armée de l'Air (French Air Force) operates two C-160G Gabriel aircraft assigned to the Airborne Squadron 54 "Dunkirk" at the 105 Evreux air base. These devices, used for the airborne-electromagnetic data collection, have successfully taken part in various operating theaters such as in the Sahel, in North Africa, in the Middle East and in Eastern Europe.

Today these platforms have become elderly. Although the various sensors have been modernized, the cells date back to 1989.

“I am very proud and happy with the decision of the Ministry of the Armed Forces. The Falcon Epicure will serve the French forces in the same way as the Falcons 10, 200, 50, 2000, 900 and 7X are already doing it, declared Eric Trappier, Chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation. The military 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.”

Dassault Aviation already has excellent knowledge of the integration of electromagnetic-based equipment on its Falcons. In fact, the Falcon 2000MRA "Multi-Reaction Sea Plane" is able to perform "surveillance missions, reconnaissance, anti-surface combat, electronic warfare and fleet training", explained Trappier. The aircraft can conduct Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance missions (ISR) and electronic intelligence missions (ELINT, SIGINT).

The Falcon jet offer several advantages. The engines are placed in the upper back of the plane, not under the wings like other business jets. As a result, the on-board sensors and radars can operate at 360 degrees without being interfered by the engines.

Furthermore, these devices are intended to carry out "sensitive" and "discrete" missions and the Falcon is a small aircraft that can be deployed discreetly without a large detachment of support staff.

"Three CUGE strategic intelligence aircraft, instead of two initially planned, will replace the two Transall C-160 Gabriel starting from 2025," says the Ministry of the Armed Forces.

Written by Matteo Sanzani
Images: French AF and Dassault Aviation

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