The Dassault Falcon 20 is a French business jet developed and manufactured by Dassault Aviation. The first business jet developed by the firm, it became the first of a family of business jets to be produced under the same name; of these, both the smaller Falcon 10 and the larger trijet Falcon 50 were direct derivatives of the Falcon 20.
During the late 1960s and early 1970s, aviation businessman Frederick W. Smith was seeking an ideal aircraft with which to launch his new business, Federal Express; Smith soon identified the Falcon 20 as showing promise for his purposes, noting the availability of unsold aircraft due to an economic downturn and its atypically strong fuselage, the latter factor lending itself well to cargo operations. Despite difficulties securing the necessary finances, the fledgling company was able to acquire several Falcon 20s and convert them for cargo operations.
The United States Coast Guard (USCG) operated a model of the Falcon 20, designated as the HU-25 Guardian. The Guardian was operated as a high-speed spotter aircraft to locate shipwreck survivors and direct slower-moving aircraft and rescue vessels, and to interdict aerial and shipborne drug trafficking. In 1982, the first HU-25 was delivered to the USCG; by December 1983, a total of 41 aircraft had been acquired. In USCG service, the HU-25 was eventually succeeded in its role by the EADS HC-144 Ocean Sentry, a newer turboprop-powered aircraft