The French government has tapped Airbus Defense and Space and Dassault Aviation to design a future maritime patrol system architecture based on one of their aircraft.
The award of 10.9 million euros ($11.82 million) for each company’s research will be based on Airbus’s A320neo and Dassault’s Falcon 10X.
The French defense procurement agency (DGA) expects the project to provide economical solutions to meet the French Navy’s operational needs beyond 2030.
Maritime Patrol Aircraft: in response to the architecture study contract issued by @DGA we presented our #A320MPA project.
This is the most suitable platform among Airbus' extensive airliners portfolio to be converted to respond to the full range of missions of the French Navy. https://t.co/mm2PPd7Vs7
— Airbus Newsroom (@AirbusPRESS) January 12, 2023
“The innovations studied during these studies may concern the improvement of sensors, means of communication, the introduction of logic based on artificial intelligence or the integration of armaments, in particular the future anti-ship missile,” the DGA stated.
The DGA expects the solutions “should remain open to cooperation with other potentially interested European partners.”
The 18-month study will help create “discussions on the future maritime patrol aircraft,” planned for a 2026 launch.
Current Patrol Aircraft
The navy currently operates a fleet of 22 Atlantique 2 maritime patrol aircraft, commissioned in the early 1990s.
Eighteen of the aircraft are undergoing an upgrade to the standard 6 configuration through 2025.
The upgrades focus on the Dassault aircraft’s submarine combat performance, including a new Searchmaster radar, which uses the Thales active antenna technology developed for Rafale.