Feasability study on French-German Maritime Patrol Aircraft takes off
Already dating back to February 2018, Airbus Defence and Space offered the A320neo as a Martime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) or as an Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR), or as an Airborne Early Warning and Control (AWACS).
On 23 October 2020, the French defence procurement agency DGA (Direction générale de l’armement) confirmed that the feasibility studies for the Maritime Airborne Warfare System (MAWS) will be launched within a few weeks. MAWS is intended to replace the current French and German Maritime Patrol Aircraft, the ATL2 (Atlantique 2) respectively the P-3C Orion.
However, the first studies will focus on the mission and combat system. These studies will involve Thales for the French side, Hensoldt, ESG (Elektroniksystem) and Diehl for Germany. They will be conducted by T-HED, a new entity created for these specific studies. T-HED is regrouping Thales, Hensoldt, ESG and Diehl.
The aircraft manufacturers, Airbus and Dassault, will be integrated in the MAWS programme during the second phase of the studies starting somewhere in 2021.
The current Atlantique 2 renovation programme is well on track, whilst the German Navy decided to cancel the P-3C modernisation programme and retire the aircraft in 2025. Germany is looking at alternatives, which include the Airbus C295MPA, the Rheinland Air Services upgraded versions of the ATR72 and the Boeing P-8A Poseidon.
If Germany chooses for the P-8A Poseidon, they will probably end the French connection. But if they choose an interim solution with the C295MPA or ATR72, the MAWS programme could still go ahead.
According to the Scramble Magazine databases, France has 23 operational ATL2s and Germany has seven *) operational P-3C Orions. In March 2020, German P-3C serial 60+01 was heavily damaged when one of the fuel tanks exploded after too much pressure had been put on it during testing.