The Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA) has notified Airbus and Dassault to produce studies for a maritime patrol aircraft capable of replacing the aging ATL 2 turboprops.
The request was made on December 22, but only revealed this week by the French government’s defense division. Each manufacturer will receive 10.9 million euros to present marine versions of the A320neo and the Falcon 10X business jet.
According to the DGA, the two companies should present economically attractive solutions to replace the fleet of 22 ATL 2, a modernized version of the Atlantic, an aircraft developed in the 60s by Bréguet, which is undergoing a technological update to be completed in 2025.
The planes are expected to incorporate more advanced sensors and systems based on artificial intelligence, in addition to a new anti-ship missile.
The stage will last 18 months and will serve as a basis for launching the Patmar (Maritime Patrol) project, scheduled for 2026. The French government’s plan is for the new plane to enter service in the next decade.
Partnership with Germany frustrated
Airbus Defense introduced the MPA, a maritime patrol variant based on the A320neo in 2018. At the time, the manufacturer claimed the commercial jet offered a larger internal footprint in addition to greater autonomy than other aircraft of its kind.
Dassault Aviation, for its part, unveiled the Falcon 10X in 2021, an executive jet with superior performance in the long-range category, and months later admitted that the aircraft could be contained for maritime patrol.
The French government is hopeful that the new maritime patrol plane will be of interest to other European partners, which would help to share the development costs.
Germany, for example, intended to study the aircraft jointly in the MAWS (Maritime Airborne Warfare System) program, but decided to acquire the P-8A Poseidon jets, from Boeing, since its P-3 Orions are at the end of their useful life.