France Upgrading its Atlantique Maritime Patrol Planes
France is the latest country to discover the usefulness of maritime patrol aircraft over land, as Atlantique aircraft over Mali went beyond mere surveillance to deliver “buddy-designated” Paveway-II laser guided bombs. DGA head Laurent Collet-Billon likened the plane to a Swiss Army Knife, and in 2013, the experience helped push Atlantique modernization to the front of the budget queue…
Work is expected to include deep structural refurbishment, in order to extend service life to around 2032. The planes will also receive a completely new suite of sensors, controlled by a new combat system.
That combat system has been expected to be Thales’ AMASACOS, developed under Turkey’s Meltem maritime patrol aircraft contracts. Instead, however, Dassault Aviation will use the DCNS’ LOTI (Logiciel Opérationnel de Traitement de l’Information) mission software as the base, and will be responsible for subsystems integration and the conversion of a flight-test demonstrator aircraft.
DCNS will develop their LOTI combat system software, which provides the overall tactical picture and manages weapons deployment.
Thales will still have a significant role. The Atlantique’s new radar system will be based on technologies developed for the Rafale fighter’s new RBE2-AA AESA radar, and Thales will add its own IFF systems. Below the waves, the new Atlantiques will rely on a new STAN digital acoustic processing subsystem, which aims to detect targets over wider frequency ranges in order to counter new types of threats.
France’s SIAé support service will be responsible for developing the upgraded tactical display consoles, and managing full-rate aircraft upgrade operations.
Contracts & Key Events
June 21/13: Contract. The DGA signs a deal. Even so, the fleet’s modernization was cut back from 18 planes to just 2/3 (15) of France 22-plane fleet. Work on the EUR 400 million contract will be conducted by co-contractors Dassault Aviation and Thales, in partnership with DCNS and SIAé. Deliveries are slated to run from 2018 – 2023, with the first 4 aircraft delivered by 2019.
As the so-called government shutdown continues, maybe the Americans should take a leaf from the French. Instead of allowing a refusal to negotiate with the House of Representatives to shut down government web sites, they could just copy France’s defense minister and Dassault Aviation – who announced their upgrade deal for France’s Atlantique 2 maritime patrol aircraft via Twitter.
Once the modifications are done, the refurbished turboprops will join France’s small fleet of converted Falcon 50 business jets. Sources: Dassault Aviation, Oct 4/13 release | Thales Group, Oct 4/13 release | Defense-Aerospace, “France Awards Contract for Atlantique 2 Upgrade” | Wall St. Journal, “Dassault Aviation: Atlantique 2 upgrade contract signed ” | Aviation Week, “Thales, Dassault Poised For Atlantique 2 Upgrade” | French DGA, “Réception d’un Falcon 50 pour la surveillance maritime”.
- Naval Technology – Atlantique ATL3 Maritime Patrol Aircraft, France.
- Aviation Week (April 21/14) – Delays and Cost Challenges Beset Airborne ASW.
- AIN (June 21/13) – Thales Displays Full-Up Maritime Patrol System. The complete system is a recent thing, but AMASCOS has been integrated with a number of aerial platforms.