The Ministry of Defence of Malaysia signed Thursday a contract with Leonardo to supply two ATR 72 MPA (Maritime Patrol Aircraft) platforms. A signing ceremony took place at LIMA 2023, a key maritime and defence exhibition in the Asia-Pacific region held in Langkawi, Malaysia.
This contract follows the selection of the solution offered by Leonardo announced last October, and includes the supply of two ATR Special Mission aircraft in Maritime Patrol configuration plus the related integrated logistic support and training services.
The ATR 72 MPA is a twin-turboprop aircraft designed for complex maritime patrol missions. It is the latest specialized variant of the ATR regional transport aircraft, part of a wide range of types developed by Leonardo for missions including maritime surveillance, Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW), Anti-Surface unit Warfare (AsuW), Search & Rescue (SAR), environmental monitoring, medical evacuation and transport of personnel and materials.
The aircraft chosen by Malaysia retains the reliability, maintainability, low lifecycle costs and comfort features of the baseline ATR 72-600. They will also be equipped with a flexible mission system, advanced sensors and a complete communications suite for Command, Control, Communications, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) missions over land and sea. The sensors and mission systems will be able to operate in stand-alone and net-centric modes, enabling the collection, processing and sharing of strategic data among operators, while providing complete situational awareness about the operational scenario.
The ATR 72 MPA is optimised for maritime patrol, electronic intelligence (ELINT) gathering, sea surface and submerged target detection and tracking, SAR, countering illegal activities (drug trafficking, piracy and smuggling) and protecting territorial waters. There is growth potential for it to evolve into a fully-fledged Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) and Anti-Surface unit Warfare (AsuW) platform.
Variants of the ATR 72 MPA, in service with military and law enforcement organisations, are equipped with the modular Leonardo ATOS (Airborne Tactical Observation and Surveillance) mission system, which will also be included in the Malaysian configuration.
The ATOS manages the aircraft’s on-board sensors, fusing the information gathered and presenting a comprehensive and continuously updated tactical picture to the mission system operators. With a commercial heritage, the ATR 72 MPA features an ergonomic design that supports the efficiency and effectiveness of the crew during missions that can typically last more than 8 hours.
The ATR-based Special Mission aircraft are able to meet a wide range of customer requirements across the APAC region, with many local operators of the ATR regional turboprop already benefitting from extended logistics support.
Dario Marfè, SVP Aircraft Commercial & Customer Services at Leonardo, said: “We are proud that the Malaysian Government has chosen our ATR 72 MPA, an aircraft which represents Leonardo's advanced technological capabilities in the design and integration of platforms and systems at the highest levels. The ATR 72 MPA combines reliability and low operating costs, all the advantages of the ATR 72-600 regional passenger transport aircraft, and features a state-of-the-art Leonardo mission system. It is positioned on the market as a tremendously effective solution for the security and defence of its customers”.
The ATR 72 MPA is equipped with a comprehensive suite of advanced electronics. Leonardo’s ATOS (Airborne Tactical Observation and Surveillance) mission system is the operational heart of the aircraft. The system integrates all the aircraft’s on-board sensors, acquiring information and delivering it to the crew via an optimised human-machine interface (HMI), which allows the display of all the data gathered from the on-board sensors in a complete tactical picture. This capability provides the crew with excellence situational awareness in the most complex scenarios, whilst minimising operators workload and maximising mission effectiveness.
On-board sensors include a world-class radar in the form of the Leonardo Seaspray 7300E, part of the highly successful Seaspray Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar family. Designed and manufactured in the UK, the latest V2 variant of the radar features updated processor and receiver technology to meet the evolving demands of the ISR mission set. A comprehensive suite of air, sea, and land surveillance modes will equip the ATR 72 MPA with enhanced multi-domain capabilities.
Through ATOS, the Seaspray 7300E V2 works with the aircraft’s other sensors to make it a fully-fledged ISTAR (intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance) platform. As well as watching the sea, the ATR 72 MPA can monitor the coast from a significant distance and, using the radar’s synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) mode, create a complete picture of the coastline.
Supporting anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and anti-surface unit warfare (AsuW) missions, the ATR 72 MPA would also be equipped with ULISSES (Ultra-LIght SonicS Enhanced System), an integrated acoustic sensor system designed to ‘listen’ for hostile submarines and determine their locations. Like Seaspray, ULISSES will also be integrated through ATOS to provide the ATR 72 MPA crew with a comprehensive picture of the environment. Uniquely in the market, ULISSES incorporates ‘multistatic’ functionality, which draws on multiple sources of information to triangulate the location of potentially hostile undersea vessels.
Other sensors integrated into the ATOS system include an electro-optical sensor turret with colour and monochrome cameras, electronic warfare sensors offering wideband electronic surveillance capability, an Automatic Identification System (AIS) and an Airborne Search and Rescue System Direction Finder (ASARS DF).
With a high performance mission system and latest generation sensors, the ATR 72 MPA can pursue objectives efficiently and effectively, exploiting its range and endurance performances to the fullest.
The ATR 72 MPA interoperability, with the associated Ground Station and with cooperative assets, is guaranteed by the complete Leonardo communication suite that allow the system to share the tactical picture in real time, disseminating data and information in Line of Sight (V/UHF-HF-WBDL) and Beyond Line of Sight (SATCOM) conditions.