Bréguet Atlantique 2

Bréguet Atlantique 2 – also known as Bréguet Atlantic Nouvelle Génération – (c/n 17, ´17´ of Force maritime de l’aéronautique navale), static display at spotter day during the 100th anniversary of the German naval aviation, Nordholz air base, August 2013.

In the middle of 1970s, when the first generation of Bréguet Br.1150 Atlantic was still in production, the French Navy launched a programme focused on creating a successor for that maritime patrol aircraft (MPA).

The new aeroplane, had to be based on the Br.1150 airframe, although featuring new avionics and equipment, as well as to have enhanced anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare capabilities. Prototypes of the Atlantic Nouvelle Génération, as the project was initially designated, were made from two aircraft of the first generation, No. 42 and 69.

On 8th May 1981, the Atlantic NG performed its maiden flight in Toulouse, flown by the test crew of Jacques Jesberger, Jean-Pierre Bussenot and Pierre Harquin. Evaluation flights of the new aircraft lasted a year and finally, in June of 1982, the Atlantic NG was approved for serial production.

The new Atlantic was made by almost the same consortium that build the first generation of the aeroplane – Dornier, MBB, Dassault, Aérospatiale, Aeritalia and SABCA. However, the new design failed to gain any interest outside France. Eventually, to emphasize it was just the domestic initiative – unlike the common NATO project of the Br.1150 – the NG was soon redesignated Atlantique 2 (commonly abbreviated for just ATL 2).

Initially, the French Navy ordered approximately forty of the ATL 2 aircraft for its naval aviation branch, Force maritime de l’aéronautique navale. Nevertheless, the order was revised and reduced in a short time. Finally, production of the Atlantique 2 was ceased after completing and delivering only twenty-eight aircraft.

The second generation of the Bréguet Atlantic officially entered operational service in 1991. In consequence, all the French first-generation Br.1150 were retired until 1996.

In 2007, the fleet of French Atlantique 2 aircraft underwent the first significant modernization. Further upgrades were performed in 2008, 2013, 2015 and 2018. The latter renovation is officially called ´Standard 6´ and covers eighteen aeroplanes out of twenty-two still in service. That programme is still ongoing with the final modernized aircraft scheduled for delivery in 2025. The Standard 6 project will allow the ATL 2 to remain in active service until 2035.

An interesting fact is that, despite being designed and developed as the maritime patrol aircraft, the Atlantique 2 is on regular basis used in Africa to support French ground troops. During the modernization performed in 2008, the ATL 2 received an enhanced ground-attack capabilities, including possibility to carry four GBU-12 Paveway II laser-guided bombs. And for the first time that new ability was used in combat in 2015, during Operation Chammal.