In the mid-1970s, in response to the increasing threats from submarines and surface ships, the French Navy decided to commission a new generation of Atlantic aircraft. On 9 March 1977, the Minister of Defence decided to relaunch the series with a fully modernised weapons system, and in December 1978 Dassault-Breguet began development of the Atlantic NG.
In its nominal mission, with eight torpedoes and a hundred buoys or two Exocet AM 39 missiles in its hold, the ATL2 must be capable of remaining on low-level patrol for eight hours in an area 600 nautical miles from its base.
On February 23, 1978 the name of the aircraft was changed to Atlantique 2 or ATL2. Two ATL2 prototypes were built from two Atlantic aircraft from the first series (n° 42 and n° 69) and made their first flights at Toulouse-Blagnac on May 8, 1981 and March 26, 1982 respectively.
The major innovation brought by the ATL2 in the maritime patrol field was the integration of the main sensors with the navigation means to make a complete system and thus present to the aircraft commander and his deputy, the tactical coordinator, a global tactical situation, whatever the operating mode.
The cockpit includes: the forward observer station, the cockpit, the tactical section (radio navigator, passive electronic interception system (ESM) operator, magnetic anomaly detection (MAD) operator, multifunctional tactical coordinator (TACCO) and radar operator stations and the acoustic detection station (DSM)), the rest station and the rear observation stations.
Thanks to its large bomb bay, its four under-wing attachment points, its buoy and marker baskets, the ATL2 can carry a wide variety of loads intended for search and attack targets (torpedoes, sonobuoys, markers, smoke, Exocet AM 39 missiles, 250 kg mines, grenades, bombs or even SAR containers).
The first production aircraft made its first flight on October 19, 1988, it was officially delivered on May 25, 1989 and handed over to the French Navy in October 1989. After military evaluation, it was put into service in February 1991 with two other aircraft to form the first element of an operational fleet.
With more than one million flight hours in thirty years of operational service, the Atlantique 2 has become the most formidable maritime patrol vessel in the world.
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