Germany will refuse the marine patrol planes proposed by France

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PARIS, (BM) – The German Ministry of Defense had planned to modernize the eight Deutsche Marine’s P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft to maintain them in service until 2030, opex360 writes.

As a reminder, the MAWS [Maritime Airborne Warfare System] program aims to replace the German P-3C Orions and the French Atlantique 2 [ATL2] with new devices on which would be based a network of sensors [drones, satellites, semaphores, etc.]. And that supposes to develop new radars, electronic warfare capabilities, acoustic buoys, and armaments dedicated to anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare. Such a project is of particular importance for the French Navy insofar as such means are essential to ensure the deployment of its nuclear missile-launching submarines [SSBN].

However, in June 2020, considering that the modernization of these P-3C Orions of the NavyFlieger [German naval aviation] would be too costly, Berlin decided to accelerate their replacement, speaking of finding an “interim” solution while waiting for the realization of the MAWS project. Three models were then cited: the C-295 MPA from Airbus, the RAS 72 “Sea Eagle” from Rheinland Air Service, and the P-8A Poseidon from Boeing. And if the first two were not likely to call into question the MAWS, it was different with the American plane.

In March, however, Washington gave the green light to the possible sale of five P-8A Poseidon to Germany, for an estimated amount of around 1.5 billion euros. Hence the questions about German intentions about the MAWS program, the opinion published by the American administration having underlined in its argument that the acquisition of these planes would allow the Deutsche Marine to “modernize and maintain its capacity of surveillance aircraft over the next 30 years.”

Hence the blow attempted by France, proposing to Germany to give it four Atlantique 2 brought to standard 6 [i.e., the most recent] to remedy the withdrawal of its P-3C Orions. And with, at the end of the day, the training of German crews, the maintenance of the aircraft, and the prospect of operational cooperation.

As a reminder, according to the Military Planning Law [LPM] 2019-25, the French Navy will eventually have 18 modernized aircraft out of the 22 it currently has.

Such an offer was not lacking in strengths. The Atlantique 2 brought to standard 6 – and refurbished – are fitted with the latest generation equipment [Searchmaster active antenna radar, sensors, tactical computer, optronic and acoustic intelligence systems, operator display consoles, sub- latest generation digital auditory treatment system, IFF TSA2542 interrogator, and]. In addition, the MarineFlieger flew the Bréguet Atlantic in the past, the “ancestor” of the ATL 2. And, finally, it would have cleared the doubts about the MAWS.

But for Berlin, these four Atlantique 2 Standard 6 offered by Paris do not do the trick. This is indeed what Thomas Silberhorn, an official at the German Defense Ministry, explained in response to a question posed by Liberal MP Christian Sauter.

“The French offer does not provide for a loan, but rather suggests the purchase or rental of four ATL2 upgraded to standard 6, which were not originally intended to be modernized by France. The aircraft was produced in 1984 and delivered to the French Navy in 1989. The condition of the airframes of the ATL2s offered to Germany was not specified. The number of proposed planes […] will not be able to cover the requirements of potential future operational obligations, crew regeneration requirements as well as training and reconnaissance flights”, argued Mr. Silberhorn.

Exit, therefore, the French offer. The idea of ​​acquiring C-295 MPA from Airbus having rejected. The German MoD has estimated that its performances and capacities were “Much lower” than those of the P-3C Orion. The P-8A Poseidon has a boulevard in front of it to win in Germany, which is not good news for the future of the MAWS program.

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