A French Navy Atlantique 2 (Image © Jacques Tonard / Marine Nationale)

Atlantique 2 upgrade, to last beyond 2030

A French Navy Atlantique 2 (Image © Jacques Tonard / Marine Nationale)
A French Navy Atlantique 2 (Image © Jacques Tonard / Marine Nationale)

The French Naval Aviation (Aéronautica Navale) decided to upgrade 15 Dassault-Breguet Atlantic 2 (ATL2) maritime patrol aircraft to fly at least into the 2030s. The modernisation will be executed by Dassault Aviation and Thales and a lot of stuff exist only a bit, in the Rafale fighter.

The companies will develop and integrate new technologies on board the aircraft that are almost a quarter of a century old. Plans call for a new tactical mission system, modern sensor subsystems and digital displays. The French say to be proud that they are the only country that can develop maritime patrol aircraft in full glory besides the United States, boasting that the Atlantique 2 can deploy optronic, radar and acoustic sensors, while launching anti-ship missiles, torpedoes and laser-guided weapons.

“The upgrade program will improve the ATL2’s ability to deal with new and emerging threats under all weather conditions, both in strategic deterrence roles and in asymmetric conflicts involving quiet and stealthy submarines, high-speed craft, land vehicles, etc. The aircraft will be equipped to remain in operational service beyond 2030”, writes a Dassault press spokesperson in a press release.

The program will be conducted by Dassault Aviation and Thales (co-contractors) in partnership with DCNS and working with the SIAé. Dassault Aviation will be in charge of developing the core system, including the LOTI(2) mission software developed by DCNS. Dassault Aviation will also be responsible for subsystems integration and the conversion of a ‘prototype’ aircraft for flight testing.

Thales will develop the radar/IFF[3] subsystem and the latest-generation digital acoustic processing subsystem (STAN), using technology incorporated in the Rafale fighter. Sensor developments will build on the results of government-funded advanced study programs in underwater detection and combat aircraft radars, including the RBE2 active electronically scanned array radar (AESA) developed for the Rafale. The STAN subsystem will process signals from all existing and future sonobuoys, detecting targets over a wider frequency range and making it possible to counter new types of threats.

DCNS will develop the LOTI software, which will establish an overall tactical picture based on data from different sensors, and manage the deployment of torpedoes, missiles and other weapons. This collaborative system enables several operators to interact at the same time. The SIAé will be responsible for developing the upgraded tactical display consoles and managing full-rate aircraft upgrade operations.

Dassault Aviation delivered the French Navy’s fleet of ATL2 aircraft during the 1990s to conduct air missions in support of France’s deterrence capabilities for the strategic ocean force and its fleet of nuclear-powered ballistic-missile submarines, and for intelligence gathering and reconnaissance. The Atlantique 2 was a further developed version of the original Breguet Br. 1150 Atlantique which first flew in 1961.

Other countries like Germany replaced the Atlantique through the years often with a larger aircraft such as the Lockheed P-3 Orion. Already the P-3 aircraft itself has made the German Navy (Marine) a lot happier, but the 18 hours of endurance for a mission flight of the Atlantique still beats a lot of aircraft.

Source: Dassault Aviation/DGA with addional reporting by © 2013 AIRheads’ Marcel Burger