The third and final Dassault Falcon 7X to be operated by Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) 34SQN as VIP special purpose aircraft (SPA) has joined the fleet.
The three leased aircraft are based at Defence Establishment Fairbairn in Canberra and have been introduced into the fleet as the replacement for the Bombardier Challenger CL-604 jets.
The Dassault Falcon 7X, powered by three P&W PW307A engines, represented a major capability leap from the smaller CL-604, given its larger passenger load, modern flight deck, satellite communications capability and increased range.
Further, the business jet also has good short-field performance and a low pavement rating, allowing it to operate into remote and regional airfields.
The Dassault Falcon 7X was first noted in an official role during Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s August visit to Tuvalu for the Pacific Islands Forum.
The aircraft were leased to the RAAF through National Australia Bank Global Infrastructure and sustained in service by Northrop Grumman Australia.
Head of Air Force Capability Air Vice-Marshal (AVM) Cath Roberts said the Falcon 7X represented the latest in a long tradition of the RAAF operating Dassault aircraft, from the Mirage III Fighter to the Falcon 20 and Falcon 900 business jets.
“This long and successful partnership between Air Force and Dassault has continued seamlessly as we introduce the last of the Falcon 7X aircraft today,” AVM Roberts said in a statement on August 7.
“Our SPA fleet sustainment partner, Northrop Grumman, has a long history of professional maintenance services that has achieved excellent SPA availability for Air Force.
“As a result, Northrop Grumman has been awarded a contract to continue to sustain our SPA fleet, including the two Boeing Business Jet aircraft.”
Since 2001, Northrop Grumman Integrated Defence Services IDS (previously Qantas Defence Services) has delivered through-life support to 34 Squadron at Defence Establishment Fairbairn, which operates the current SPA fleet of two Boeing Business Jets (BBJs) and three Bombardier Challenger 604s.
The first Dassault Falcon 7X arrived in April.