A total of 18 ATL2s are set to be upgraded and delivered to the French Navy by 2024. The upgrade focuses on the ATL2 combat system. This involves integrating new technologies in terms of tactical mission systems, sensor subsystems and display consoles into existing aircraft, dealing with the obsolescence and restoring the performance of the aircraft at the highest levels.
The equipment installed is among the most effective or efficient in the aeronautical industry, such as the new Searchmaster radar, which benefits from the active antenna technology developed by Thales for the Rafale. The ATL2s will thus improve their ability to deal with modern threats in all weather conditions, whether in the context of strategic deterrence missions or in the context of engagements against silent and stealthy submarines, fast craft, and even land vehicles.
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.