France receives third modernised Atlantique 2

Dassault Aviation has delivered the third Atlantique 2 maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) to the Direction générale de l’armement (DGA, France’s defence procurement agency), following its modernisation to Standard 6.

This is the third of 18 examples to undergo the modernisation programme, which was awarded by the DGA in October 2013. Of which, Dassault Aviation is scheduled to upgrade and deliver seven examples by 2023, with the Service Industriel de l’Aéronautique (SIAé, Industrial Service of Aeronautics) enhancing the remaining 11.

The Standard 6 configuration integrates the Thales Searchmaster X-band active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar with an active antenna onto the Atlantique 2 MPAs. According to the company, the multirole surveillance radar can detect both stationary and moving maritime targets at ranges of up to 200 miles (321km), even in high sea states. It also includes a new Thales-produced acoustic subsystem to gather and process signals from latest-generation air-dropped sonobuoys used in detecting submarines.

ATL2 [Dassault Aviation/Cyrille Cosmao] #1
A Dassault Atlantique 2 maritime patrol aircraft in flight. Dassault Aviation/Cyrille Cosmao

Aside from Thales’ contribution, Standard 6 also incorporates WESCAM’s MX-20 electro-optical (EO) turret – a system which was integrated on some of the Atlantique 2 aircraft of a previous standard in 2013. Dassault Aviation is also providing a new navigation console and SIAé is integrating new tactical display subsystem consoles.

Dassault states that “the Standard 6 upgrade will improve the [Atlantique 2’s] capability to support the Strategic Ocean Force and the Naval Air Group of the aircraft carrier Charles-de-Gaulle, to deal with modern threats (future nuclear or conventional submarines, naval forces, etc) and to support air-land missions until 2030.”

Upgrade work is mainly being carried out by Dassault Aviation – which is leading the contracting effort – and Thales in association with Naval Group and SIAé.