The farewell ceremony of the Breguet P-1150 Atlantic maritime patrol aircraft (originally acquired by five nations: Italy, Germany, France, Netherlands, and Pakistan) was held at Sigonella Air Base this week, home to the 41st Wing Antisom of the Italian Air Force.
The historical plane has 45 years of operative history, and has carried out 250,000 flight hours, taking part in every maritime monitoring Italian Air Force activity such as “Mare Nostrum” and “Mare Sicuro”. The ceremony was attended by the Italian Air Force, Italian Navy, and other neighboring authorities. During the day, an Atlantic special color was unveiled and the new P-72A replacement aircraft was officially introduced.
The plane was already tested in May during the G-7 Summit in Taormina. As its predecessor, the P-1150, the P-72 has been entrusted to the Air Force and employed by the Navy, and onboard, mixed crews work together in great synergy. The aircraft was developed and produced by Leonardo-Finmeccanica starting from the modern airplane turboprop ATR 72-600 regional platform. The plane was developed for the civil market and then it was modified, inserting specific modifications to meet military protocol. Its’ enhanced capabilities of discovery, its extended range, and its low-flying altitude capabilities make it essential for the surveillance of Italian territory and for search and rescue missions in order to protect human lives.
It can cover the roles of maritime patrol search and identification of surface ships, SAR (search and rescue missions), fighting drug trades, piracy, smuggling, monitoring and intervention in case of ecological and territorial water disasters. It is a good solution for the Italian Air Force and Navy to overcome the functional gap until the army can be provided with a Long Range Maritime Patrol Aircraft equipped with ASW (Anti-Submarine Warfare).
The plane is able to fulfill research and collection of information (targets, geographical and meteorological situation, connections location) not only through direct observation, but also through electronic devices that are able to discover, track, recognize, classify, and identify surface contacts. All these functions are handled by the ATOS system. ATOS integrates onboard sensors through:
- Scanning electron radar (to locate and track surface and air contacts, even small ones)
- Electro-optic turret
- Ability to identify and to analyze onboard electromagnetic radiation inside an operative area in real time
- Ability to transmit real-time information thanks to satellite communication systems
- High capacity to report and transmit data even through own embedded systems
Thanks to this new plane a new era of maritime patrol and sea safety has begun.
Featured image by Davide Calasanzio via Wikimedia Commons.