The IOC validation comes at the end of an intense period of operational evaluation conducted by the ATL2 detachment of the CEPA/10S Air Test and Evaluation Squadron of the French Navy. This evaluation revealed a significant capability enhancement, particularly in the field of anti-submarine warfare (ASW).
“This is an important step in the program, launched in 2013, with a view to full operational capability (FOC) at the end of 2021,”
French Navy statement
Upgrading the ATL2 from standard 5 to standard 6 meets the need to improving the ASW capabilities of the aircraft while dealing with the obsolescence of certain equipment. It concerns the acoustic system, consoles and computers, the optronic system, and radar and IFF (aircraft identification system).
With the implementation of the standard 6, the ATL2 MPA is even more capable to fight against modern threats such as new generations of submarines and ships. This success is the result of collective work carried out by the ATL2 integrated team (DGA / French Navy Command), manufacturers (Dassault, Thales, Naval Group and SIAé), CEPA/10S and units of the Lann-Bihoué naval air base.
“On the way now to the FOC, there are still many challenges to be taken up (development of tactical simulators and of the mission preparation and debriefing system, technical support, crew training),” the French Navy adds.
About ATL2 Standard 6 MPA
For the record, the contract for the upgraded (standard 6) ATL2 combat system was awarded by the defense procurement agency DGA on October 4, 2013. The program covers 18 aircraft, with the French Navy originally fielding 22 “legacy” ATL2s. Dassault Aviation is delivering a total of seven upgraded ATL2s between 2019 and 2023. In parallel, the SIAé aeronautical maintenance center will upgrade 11 aircraft.
The first two aircraft upgraded by Dassault Aviation were delivered to the French Navy in October 2019. A third ATL2 was delivered in April 2020. As part of the qualification trials, a “live” AM39 Exocet air-launched anti-ship missile was test fired by an upgraded MPA in June 2020 (picture above). Moving forward, two more Atlantique 2 “Standard 6” are set to be delivered in 2021 for a total fleet of five operational aircraft by the time the FOC is achieved.
The “Standard 6” upgrade work includes:
- A new radar: The Thales Search Master with active antenna,
- A new acoustic subsystem by Thales: It gathers and processes signals from the latest-generation of sonobuoys for submarine detection,
- A new navigation console designed by Dassault Aviation,
- New consoles for the tactical display subsystem, developed by SIAé
The standard 6 upgrade improves the ATL2s’ capability to support the Strategic Oceanic Force (French SSBN fleet), to deal with modern threats (future nuclear or conventional submarines, naval forces at sea, etc.) and to support air-land missions, until 2030. The ATL2 is then set to be replaced by the French-German MAWS program.