On the afternoon of June 25, one of the French navy’s Dassault Falcon 50 “Surmar” maritime surveillance aircraft provided an impromptu airshow for passengers aboard the Norwegian Cruise Line Breakaway, a 3,963-passenger vacation cruise ship that had just departed from Bermuda, returning to New York.
Passengers and ship’s crew watched as the Falcon—perhaps on a training mission—made four passes. In this video, shot with a cellphone camera during the third and fourth passes from Deck 18 by passenger Richard Ogle of Virginia, the Falcon initiates its run from an altitude below the top deck of the ship, sweeping past the stern and peeling up and away. Several of the passengers did express concern over the low-flying trijet, some even fearing it might have been a terrorist attack.
The French navy operates eight Falcon 50 Surmars, converted from government transportation aircraft. They are equipped with search radar, an optronic system, refurbished cockpit avionics and observation windows. The conversions were performed at Dassault Aviation’s factory in Merignac, France. Surveillance missions include combating piracy, spotting polluters, fisheries control and aerial search and rescue (SAR).