France is one of the few countries to operate large maritime patrol aircraft (MPAs) like the Atlantique 2, a type now undergoing modernisation. Drawing on its MPA experience, Dassault Aviation has also developed a range of lighter platforms for maritime patrol and surveillance. While the French Navy currently operates eight Falcon 50 MPAs, Dassault now offers a new type based on the Falcon 2000 LXS, a recent twin-engine business jet with a range of 4,200nm. The MPA version can cover 150,000sq.km of ocean in 8 hours thanks to a payload that includes a Searchmaster panoramic radar optimised to detect small moving targets.
Falcon 2000 MRA (© : Dassault Aviation)
The first order for a new Falcon 2000 MRA was placed by Japan’s Coast Guard in 2015. These two aircraft, deliverable in 2017, will feature a retractable FLIR, visual observation stations and SAR gear. The sensors and communications system are managed by the mission system (e.g. Thales’s Amascos), with each operator working at a multifunction console. With four hardpoints, the aircraft can carry more than 2 tonnes under its wings (2x450kg + 2x680kg).
The high-strength airframe can also accommodate such options as torpedoes or anti-ship missiles (e.g. Exocet AM39, Marte Mk2/S, or ANL/Sea Venom).
Falcons offer greater strategic depth than propeller aircraft as they can be on station quickly and change altitude rapidly.
(© : Thales)
Amascos mission system
Thales designed the Amascos mission system specifically for maritime patrol aircraft. It is built around a powerful tactical command subsystem and the aircraft’s sensor suite (radar, MAD detector and sonobuoy system, FLIR, ESM/ELINT, AIS and pollution sensors). Datalinks receive additional data from and share the MPA’s sensor data with other platforms. Amascos merges the datasets to present operators at reconfigurable and redundant consoles with a synthetic view of the plane’s tactical situation. Amascos is in service on MPAs operated by Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia and Turkey.
(© : Thales)
The Searchmaster airborne multirole surveillance radar features an AESA antenna based on technologies developed for the Rafale combat aircraft.With a range of 200nm and a short refresh time, the Searchmaster returns high-resolution imagery and can track and discriminate up to 1,000 targets. This truly multirole radar merges five functions: ASuW and ASW, maritime and ground surveillance and tactical air support. It can detect small moving surface targets at long range, thanks to its GMTI mode, or a submarine’s periscope in rough seas, and is compatible with many platforms, including fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft, like the the ATL2 and the Falcon 2000 MRA, and UAVs.