France’s Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA; Directorate General of Armaments) recently accepted delivery of the tenth modernised Breguet Br.1150 Atlantique 2 (ATL2) after the maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) was modernised and upgraded to the type’s Standard 6 configuration.
The aircraft (serial unknown) was formally handed over to the DGA on December 12, 2022, after it was upgraded to the new Standard 6 configuration by the French Air and Space Force’s Service Industriel de l’Aéronautique (SIAé; Aeronautics Industrial Service). The newly modernised ATL2 was due to be handed back to the French Fleet Air Arm’s Flottille 21F/23F at Lorient/Lann-Bihoué Air Base in Brittany shortly after it was accepted by the DGA.
Breguet’s ATL2 formally entered operational service with the French Navy in 1989, with 28 aircraft delivered to the naval air arm in total. One example was damaged beyond economical repair following a landing accident on January 22, 2007, and a further five airframes have been held in reserve storage, leaving just 22 airframes available for operational use.
On October 4, 2013, the DGA contracted SIAé to upgrade 18 ATL2s to the Standard 6 configuration, which aimed to improve the MPA’s ability to deal with new and emerging threats in all weather conditions. It was specifically tailored to enhance the aircraft’s capabilities in the strategic deterrence role and in asymmetric conflicts that involve quiet and stealthy submarines, high-speed craft and land vehicles.
The upgrade includes the installation of new equipment, such as the Thales-developed Searchmaster X-band multi-mode surveillance radar and L3 WESCAM MX-20 electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensor turret. The modernisation process will also integrate new technologies – such as sensor subsystems, tactical mission systems and display consoles – into the ATL2 and will deal with system obsolescence to enhance the aircraft’s overall mission performance.
While the upgrade was initially for 18 aircraft, this was subsequently reduced to 15, before falling to 12. However, the contract was increased back to covering 18 aircraft again in October 2018. The first two modernised ATL2s were redelivered to the French Fleet Air Arm in October 2019. The final aircraft is slated to complete the modernisation process in 2023, with the effort aiming to keep the French ATL2 fleet operationally viable until at least 2032.