French MoD press release translated by Naval News
By 2024, the 2019-2025 military planning law calls for the modernization of 18 ATL2s. This renovation focuses on the ATL2 combat system, with the aim of developing and then integrating new technologies into the tactical mission system, sensor subsystems, and display consoles of existing aircraft in order to address current systems’ obsolescence and restore performance to peak levels.
This aircraft is equipped with some of the most cutting-edge technologies available in the aerospace industry, including the new Searchmaster radar, which utilizes Thales’ active antenna technology developed for the Rafale. Thus, the ATL2 can deal with new threats in all-weather conditions, during strategic deterrent missions or during conflicts: silent and stealthy submarines, fast crafts, and even land vehicles.
Since December 2020, when the first standard 6 ATL2 was declared operational, the aircraft has already taken part in a number of operational missions, most notably anti-submarine warfare. The results obtained from the missions bring the aircraft on a level with the top NATO nations.
Upgrading the ATL2 from standard 5 to standard 6 meets the need to improve 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 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 airbase.
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 was set to be replaced by the French-German MAWS program. However, following Germany’s decision to procure the P-8A as an “interim” solution, rumor has it that France could develop its own MPA platform based on the new Falcon 10X by Dassault Aviation.