On April 15, 1981, the Falcon Gardian (n° 48) made its first flight in the hands of pilot Hervé Leprince-Ringuet, and test flight engineer Jean-Marie Barthelemy.
In June 1977, the French Navy had to take account of its increased need for maritime surveillance equipment, following the progressive extension of the French economic exclusion zone up to 200 miles.
Building on its experience with the HU-25 A Guardian, Dassault proposed to the French Navy a light twin adapted to the maritime surveillance mission and meeting the above criteria.
On 13 May 1981, the French government, on behalf of the Navy, signed a contract covering development and production tooling for five Falcon Gardians in two batches of two and three aircraft, respectively. Aircraft n°48 was officially handed over on the same day.
For more information on the Falcon Gardian, go to its datasheet.