ARDHAN, an association for the research of documentation on the history of naval aeronautics strikes a big blow. The maritime patrol, often very sober of restitutions on its missions is enlightened by an unpublished, dense and illustrated document of some 150 pages and very numerous photos.
The Navy in the BSS
Without sensationalism, the author, Commander Jean-Marc Molina, sheds light on the missions of the patmar, with a section on the ATL1 that began in Mauritania in 1977. The ATL1 then searched for targets, directed the Jaguar's cannon fire, served as a radio relay...
The ATL2, although designed as a pure patmar without an air-land vocation, has also given, and given a lot. The Navy The navy believed at the time that this much more complex aircraft would have no chance of survival in a sandy, hot universe. And yet ATL2 has developed its cooperation with the DGSE, the command of special operations (COS) and operations of the armed forces staff: Atalante (against pirates), Unicorn (Ivory Coast), Sparrowhawk (against rezzous), Harmattan (against Gaddafi), and so on.
The search for hostages in the Sahel and the fight against terrorism has intensified its interactions with individual units, as during Operation Sahel in 2009-2010, which will mobilize four aircraft and up to six crews based in Niamey. One of these aircraft will be used in January 2011 to relocate the convoy of kidnappers of two young Frenchmen, kidnapped the day before in Niamey, enabling a bold but alas unsuccessful attempt at liberation. Up to six ATL2s will be mobilized at the beginning of Serval.
The author believes that this recourse to ATL2 is the consequence of the Air Force's withdrawal from this enduring, low-speed tactical reconnaissance mission.
A platform without competition
For the first time, the ATL2 fire balance sheet is revealed: seven guided bombs were fired in Serval, three in Barkhane, but 39 in Chammal! And this at a time when the coalition had slipped very strict conditions for the opening of fire: the French sailors convinced of their capabilities in this field, but also in the more sensitive field of SRI.
An exceptional record for an intelligence and attrition capability initiated at the end of the 2000s at the instigation of Admirals Bernard Rogel (then Deputy Chief of Operations at EMA) and Bruno Thouvenin (Coherence Officer then ALAVIA). Today, the aircraft has a very wide range of ammunition, with the GBU-12, GBU-51 and GBU-58. Up to four aircraft can be carried, two more than a Mirage 2000D.
The crew concept allows for optimum utilization and durability: an ATL2 can fly 14 hours continuously, with a playtime in the area that is not interrupted by in-flight refueling, an asset that has been used in many theaters.
As we've seen, the rental of light surveillance and intelligence aircraft (ALSR), like the drones that are now in large numbers, has not changed the intensity of engagement of the "patmarists".
The standard 6 ATL2 also offers extended capabilities with an ultra-modern ball (MX20) and a radar with interesting modes in the air-land environment. No chance, therefore, that it will disappear from these theaters.