As part of the European-led Maritime Awareness in the Strait of Hormuz (EMASoH), the French Navy deployed an Atlantique 2 maritime patrol aircraft (ATL2) modernized to standard 6, the latest to date. The aircraft, which will operate from the United Arab Emirates, is part of the Flotilla 23F of the French Naval Aviation, based in Lann-Bihoué, western France.
The French-initiated, European-led EMASoH mission has been operating in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz since February 2020. “The purpose of this operation is to ease tensions and protect European economic interests by guaranteeing freedom of movement in the Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz,” according to the French Ministry of Armed Forces.
The Dassault-Breguet Atlantique 2 entered service in 1992 in the Marine Nationale, though it is based on the Breguet Atlantic, an airframe developed in the 1960s. Standard 6 brings in a new combat system, a new radar, and new sensors, which “provides the crew with latest generation screens and a more efficient system that allows faster processing of data collected during maritime patrol missions,” the Ministry explains.
In 2018, Germany and France conjointly agreed to develop a new naval patrol plane, the Maritime Airborne Warfare System (MAWS). The Deutsche Marine needs to replace 8 Lockheed P-3C Orion aircraft, constructed in the 1980s, while the 22 ATL2 of the Marine Nationale are also in need of replacement.
However, after Germany chose to buy five Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft to retire the P-3C early, France is expected to step down from the MAWS program to develop its own solution based on Dassault’s latest business jet, the Falcon 10X.