Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA 2000) MPA Replacement Program
Italy was working in conjunction with Germany to achieve a combined MPA replacement program for their Atlantic fleets. However, the coalition was discontinued around the year 2005 due to budget problems. Germany had negotiated with Italy to set up a common program that could cover 24 aircraft (14 for Italy, 10 for Germany). The MPA — Replacement program had been designed to replace the Breguet Atlantics of the German and Italian navies. This program had been postponed several times, which meant retrofitting the existing Atlantic 1. Nevertheless, the age of these aircraft — over thirty years old — made their replacement ever more urgent.
The Maritime Reconnaissance Aircraft BR 1150 Atlantic is in service with the German and Italian armed forces for many several years. According to 1996 plans of the German and Italian ministries of defense, this type of aircraft was to be replaced by a modern aircraft by the year 2007. Dasa's Military Aircraft Business Unit, which had been proposed as the German systems leader, was on talks with Alenia Aerospazio, the proposed Italian systems leader. The MoU was to harmonize concepts of both companies for a possible mission equipment. Additionally both companies will share their experiences in definition, integration, and maintenance of the MPA 2000 aircraft.
Besides a re-design of the aircraft, a major role plays the the realization of a modern mission equipment. Core element is to be the so-called Tactical Command System (TCS). TCS bases on most modern computer technology. It eases the work of the on-board specialists by automatization of the sensor control and surveillance and increases the mission efficiency of the whole reconnaissance system and its flexibility in the face of changing situation by a modern, ergonomic man-machine-interface. TCS is supported by a stationary ground system, the Maritime Air Operations Center, as well as its transportable version, the Transportable Air Operations Center. Both systems are part of the planning, surveying and evaluating process of a mission as well as the interpretation of retrieved information in order to form a situation synopsis.
Due to similar requirements for a successor to MPA by the Italian armed forces, the first German Italian contacts began in 1994 to determine a possible common procurement of new MPA. The operational requirements of the two navies have been harmonised in another GE-IT talks. For cost reasons, an aircraft designed specifically for MPA tasks is intended as the starting point for aircraft interior. With a modular design, a low-cost modification is expected.
To reduce costs further, a "pooling" of shares in weapon systems is possible, where it is economical and appropriate (e.g. Joint Logistics, common from bildungszentren, software maintenance, etc.). In May 1995, a "GE IT Joint Declaration" could be signed by the heads which provides for joint cooperation in the procurement and the use of weapon systems units. As another milestone on the road of joint cooperation for development and procurement of new MPA that was in January 96 "com-mon outline European staff target" signed at Admirals-/ General level.
The described with this document and more reminiscent of PAPS approach provides for the establishment of a bilateral "project group". It should be made to bilateral Realisierbarkeits studies on the basis of a "feasibility MoU signed until summer of the year". The start of the definition phase was planned for early 1999. An opening of the first bilateral cooperation to a multinational European Community of the MPA was aimed at.
The entire program, in the definition phase as of 2000, has been valued at almost Euro 3.5 billion. As of 2000, development was projected to begin in 2002, with delivery in Germany from 2007 and in Italy from 2008. The creation of EADS could lead to the extension of the program to France, as the French Navy also wished to modernize its Atlantique 2 planes, change their systems and replace their engines, depending on the decision of the respective Ministries of Defense.
The MPA320 was a state-of-the art modern concept, designed by EADS M (based on A320) as the leading edge for the next generation MPA. The main competition was Lockheed Martin, L-3 and Boeing. The mission system for the Airbus A319 MPA aircraft included some of the features which would be required by the UK to carry out the roles of the MRA4, such as surveillance radar, IFF interrogator, Acoustic system, Magnetic Anomaly detector and the FITS (Fully integrated tactical system). The "Off the Shelf" version would provide crew positions for 6 operators and to match the capability requirements of the UK, the sensor-fit would need to be customised. There had been no customers for this aircraft type as of January 2011, so if the UK were to choose this aircraft type there would undoubtedly be unforeseen issues arising in bringing the aircraft into operation.
By 2005 Germany was operating 16 Dornier and Siebel Br 1150 Atlantics. First introduced in 1966, these platforms were to continue until 2012 with 12 platforms configured for Anti Submarine Warfare (ASW) and Maritime Patrol (MP) while the remaining 4 are used for Electronic and Signals Intelligence (ELINT / SIGINT). As a replacement for the ASW / MP Br 1150s Germany purchased 8 P-3C Orions from the Royal Netherlands Navy for $355 million, and took delivery between November 2005 and March 2006. The ELINT / SIGINT Br 1150s may be replaced by either High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) or Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) UAV program.
By 2005 Italy was operating 13 Br1150 Atlantics and had an additional 5 in store. These aircraft were due to be replaced in 2012, but Italy had not announced how it intended to proceed. In December 2008 the Italian Air Force signed the contract for the supply of four ATR 72MPs. These aircraft will carry out tasks of surveillance, maritime patrol and SAR. The new aircraft are going to replace the Breguet Atlantic in service.