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France awards contract to upgrade Atlantique 2 aircraft

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The Atlantique 2 MPA. A Dassault photo

BREST, FRANCE (BNS): The French Defence Ministry has awarded a contract to Dassault Aviation and Thales to upgrade the French Navy's fleet of Atlantique 2 maritime patrol aircraft.

The 400 million Euro contract, awarded by Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on Oct 4, entails the modernisation of 15 Atlantique 2 MPAs.

The upgrade programme will involve development and integration of next-generation technologies, including sensors and other subsystems, on board the aircraft which 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.

Daddault Aviation and Thales will carry out the modernisation work in partnership with DCNS and SIAe.

While Dassault will be in charge of developing the core system, including the LOTI mission software in partnership with DCNS, Thales will develop the new radar and related subsystems along with latest-generation digital acoustic processing subsystem (STAN).

The new radar will benefit from latest technologies based on those developed for the Rafale fighter jet. 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.

The new LOTI mission software will establish an overall tactical picture based on data from different sensors and manage the deployment of torpedoes, missiles and other weapons, Dassault said.

The SIAé will be responsible for developing the upgraded tactical display consoles and managing full-rate aircraft upgrade operations.

Dassault will be responsible for subsystems integration and the conversion of a "prototype" aircraft for flight testing.

The first upgraded Atlantique 2 is slated for delivery to the Navy in 2018.

The French Navy presently maintains a fleet of 22 Atlantique 2 MPAs. The aircraft has been in service with the Navy since 1989.

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