French Defence Minister Florence Parly announced during the Euronaval 2018 exhibition held in Paris on 23-26 October the modernisation of more Atlantique 2 (ATL2) maritime patrol aircraft (MPA).
The Direction Générale de l'Armement (DGA), the French procurement agency, awarded a contract to Dassault Aviation and Thales on 11 October to upgrade six ATL2s, the agency said on its website on 24 October. This will bring the total number of aircraft upgraded to 18, compared with the 15 initially planned. The increase in number of upgraded aircraft, contained in France's Loi de Programmation Militaire (LPM) 2019-25 military funding programme approved by President Emmanuel Macron in July, will increase the French Navy's ability to counter subsurface threats around the world and in particular in areas of strategic interest, according to the DGA.
The upgrade will extend the ATL2's service life until they are withdrawn from service in 2030. It will focus on the digitisation of its tactical computer, optronic, and acoustic intelligence systems. The new Searchmaster radar will use active electronic scanning antenna (AESA) technology developed by Thales for the Rafale.
Naval Group will be responsible for the information processing software and the French Ministry of Defence's Service industriel de l'aéronautique (Aeronautics Industry Service) for the operators' consoles.
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