The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has published a request for information (RfI) into Phase 2 of the command Support Air Transport Recapitalisation (CSAT Recap), which will see military-specific upgrades fitted to two previously acquired Dassault Falcon 900LX business jets.

In February 2022 the MoD’s procurement arm Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) signed a £80m contract with Bristol-based Centreline for the delivery of two Dassault 900LX aircraft and two years of initial support.

The UK Royal Air Force has carried out the country’s VIP air transport since the 1940, with the most recent fleet consisting of four BAe146 aircraft, one Voyager and one Augusta Westland helicopter which comprised the CSAT fleet. The 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review directed that the fixed-wing elements should be recapitalised, with a focus on the replacement of the ageing Bae146 fleet.

Phase 1 of the CSAT Recap was a rapid procurement project which achieved Full Operating Capability

(FOC) in July 22 with the purchase of two new Dassault Falcon 900LX aircraft under a military owned, civilian registered, commercially operated service contracted through Centreline, and operated from RAF Northolt as part of 32 Squadron RAF.

CSAT Phase 2 requirements

CSAT Phase 2 will complete the CSAT Recap project by transferring the two aircraft already procured in Phase 1 to the Military Register and integrating military-grade modifications on the aircraft and a through-life support package to the out-of-service date of 2037.

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Military upgrade, subject to the RfI feasibility study, could include an aircraft protection system with directional infra-red counter measures and countermeasure dispensing system. In addition, military-grade communications systems, IFF detector, anti-jam and anti-spoof capabilities, and flight deck armour could form part of the requirement.

Timelines for CSAT Phase 2 will see the two Dassault Falcon 900LX aircraft placed on the Military Aircraft Register from Q1 2026, with a contract award expected to be around late Q3 2025.

A contractor in-service support package, which ostensibly being based at RAF Northolt, would also have a requirement to operate one aircraft in-theatre on an enduring basis and the second concurrently or separately deployed for up to three months from an in-theatre airbase.

In civil specification, the Dassault Falcon 900LX has a range of 4,750nm flying at Mach 0.8 with six passengers and two crew. The type’s certified maximum altitude is 51,000ft.