In 1965, the French concern of Dassault introduced its line of business jets with the Dassault "Falcon 20" (despite its designation, actually preceding the Falcon 10). The product was initially developed under the name of "Mystere 20" and under the Dassault-Breguet brand label. It was powered by 2 x Pratt & Whitney JT12A-8 series turbofan engines and featured a crew of two with seating for up to fourteen. The design incorporated low-mounted, swept-back wings with a tubular fuselage and mid-mounted tailplanes along a singular vertical tail fin. The cockpit was set forward in its traditional place, aft of a short nose cone with good views afforded. The undercarriage was of the tricycle arrangement. Engines were mounted externally and well aft along the sides of the empennage. The initial prototype aircraft went airborne for the first time on May 4th, 1963.
To reach the desired customer base, Dassault entered into talks with American carrier Pan American (PanAm) and from this the decision was made to select the General Electric CF700 turbofan over the original choice of Pratt & Whitney. PanAm then ordered its first 40 aircraft to which the line then received its requisite certification over American airspace in June of 1965. American versions were recognized as "Fan Jet Falcon".
Eventually some 508 total aircraft would be produced from the span of 1963 to 1988. The American forms eventually evolved under the "Falcon 20" name and an improved model emerged as the "Falcon 200" within time. Military operators became Australia, Belgium, Canada (as the CC-117), Egypt, France, Iran, Pakistan, Spain, Syria, the United States, and Venezuela (among others) while civilian operators came to include France, Lebanon, Mexico, the United Kingdom, the United States and South Africa. Federal Express was a primary American operator - purchasing 33 of the type as its first aircraft - and the United States Coast Guard operated the product as the HU-25 "Guardian" in a spotter role.
Variants to appear after the Mystere 20 prototype were the 20C initial production models, the 20CC model with low-pressure tires, the 20D and 20E variants with uprated General Electric engines, and the longer-ranged 20F. The 20FH served as the prototype to the Falcon 200 model while the 20G was developed for maritime patrolling and outfitted with 2 x Garrett AiResearch ATF3-6-2C engines. The Falcon 20H was the original name for the Falcon 200 line.
U.S. Coast Guard HU-25 platforms have included the original HU-25A from the Falcon 20G (2 x Garrett ATF3-6-2C engines), the HU-25B converted from HU-25A with SLAR (Side-Looking Airborne Radar) equipment, the HU-25C with its Westinghouse APG-66 radar and FLIR (Foward-Looking InfraRed) blister (HU-25A converts), the HU-25C+ with improved tracking and search functionality and the HU-25D with ISAR (Inverse Synthetic Aperture Radar) and FLIR - these upgraded from existing HU-25C models.
FedEx's first Falcon 20 - nicknamed "Wendy" - was donated to the Smithsonian Institute in 1983. The aircraft proved critical in establishing the overnight delivery-based business from its Memphis, Tennessee headquarters for its speed, reliability and cargo-hauling capabilities. The aircraft currently resides as a showpiece of the Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia. The FedEx version was known as the Falcon Cargo Jet and modified with reinforced floors and a side-fuselage cargo door for the role.