French defence minister Florence Parly has welcomed the delivery of the first two Dassault Atlantique 2 maritime patrol aircraft upgraded to the new standard 6 specification.
Parly was shown the capabilities of the modified twin-turboprops during a 2h demonstration flight from the French navy’s Lann-Bihoue base in Britanny, northwest France on 24 October.
Paris is raising a total of 18 examples to the new standard, with deliveries to run until 2024.
As well as dealing with obsolescence issues on the 1980s-built aircraft, the modifications will enable the fleet to continue operating until its expected out-of-service date after 2030.
Developed by Dassault and Thales, the upgrade work adds the latter’s Search Master active electronically scanned array radar, a new acoustic data processing system and a Dassault-designed navigation console.
France’s DGA defence procurement body authorised the transfer of the first two examples to the navy earlier this year, which arrived in Lann-Bihoue on 18 July and 27 August, respectively.
Dassault will perform the enhancements on a further five examples, while the navy’s SIAe maintenance unit will work on the remainder.
France is also acquiring seven modified Dassault Falcon 2000LXS business jets as maritime surveillance aircraft under its Albatros programme; deliveries are due to begin in 2023.
Beyond 2030, France intends to work with Germany to jointly develop a new maritime patrol aircraft following a 2018 agreement.