In the late 1950s, NATO was looking for a plane to replace the Lockheed P2V Neptune and asked aircraft makers to present their designs for a long-range maritime patrol aircraft. In 1958 French planemaker Breguet was selected to build the new aircraft after its Breguet Br.1150 Atlantic ticked all the right boxes.

The first prototype of the plane made its maiden flight in Toulouse on October 21, 1961, with a second prototype taking to the skies four months later. In February 1963 and September 1964, two Breguet Br.1150 Atlantic debuted with a larger fuselage. Initial orders for the plane came from the French and Germany, with France ordering 60 aircraft and Germany 20. The first plane entered service with the French Navy in 1973.

The Atlantic 2

In 1978 the French Government authorized the development of a new advanced version of the plane called the Atlantic 2. The engines and airframe of the original Atlantic 1 did not change, but the equipment and avionics improved with a new radar and sonar processor. The improvements also included a new tactical computer and an infrared camera under the nose. The ability for the plane to carry French Exocet missiles was also added.

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Breguet BR 1150 Atlantic

The first two prototypes of the Atlantic 2 were converted Atlantic 1s. The planes made their maiden flights on May 8, 1981. Production of the Atlantic 2 was authorized on May 24, 1984, with deliveries to begin in 1989. After initially ordering 42 aircraft, the number was revised down to 28.

The Atlantic 2 had the ability to carry anti-submarine torpedoes

In 2012, the Atlantic 2 was rebranded as the ATL2, with 22 in active service with the French Navy. In the same year, 18 of the planes underwent a series of upgrades in two stages. Phase one addressed obsolescence issues, while Phase two added new capabilities. Also, in 2012 the Atlantic 2 was given the ability to carry the MU90 Impact torpedo. Developed for the French and Italian navies, the MU90 was a 32.7-kilogram anti-submarine torpedo. With the upgrades, the Atlantic 2 is expected to remain in service with the French Navy until 2032.

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Cockpit Breguet Atlantic

A third version of the Atlantic 2 was proposed for the British Royal Air Force to replace the Nimrod. The French withdrew from the competition in 1996 after hints from the British Ministry of Defense suggested that it would not be selected. At the time, the BAE Systems Nimrod MRA4 was the preferred aircraft and was selected as the winner. These planes were later replaced by the Boeing P-8 Poseidon, developed from the civilian Boeing 737-800.

New owners Dassault preferred to develop the Falcon 900 for maritime reconnaissance

Dassault 2000MRA

Photo: Dassault

Dassault, who were now the owners of Bréguet, gave up on any plans to develop an Atlantic 3, preferring to modify the Dassault Falcon 900 corporate jet as a maritime patrol aircraft.

During its production run from 1961 until 1987, 87 Atlantic 1s were built and 28 Atlantic 2s. The aircraft entered service with the French, German, Italian, and Dutch militaries.


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