Breguet Atlantic

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Br.1150 Atlantic
Atlantique 2
Breguet Atlantic of the German Navy
Role Maritime patrol aircraft
Manufacturer Breguet Aviation
First flight 21 October 1961
Introduction 1965
Status Active service
Primary users French Navy
German Navy
Italian Air Force
Pakistan Navy
Royal Netherlands Navy
Produced 1961 – 1987
Number built 87 Atlantique 1
28 Atlantique 2
Unit cost
>$35 Million[1]

The Breguet Br.1150 Atlantic is a long-range maritime patrol aircraft designed and manufactured by Breguet Aviation. Introduced to service in 1965, it has been operated by several NATO countries, commonly performing maritime roles such as reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare. The Atlantic is also capable of carrying air-to-ground munitions to perform ground attack missions; a small number of aircraft were also equipped to perform ELINT operations. An updated version, the Atlantique 2 or ATL2, was produced by Dassault Aviation for the French Navy in the 1980s. Other operations of the Atlantic have included the German Navy, the Italian Air Force, the Pakistan Navy, and the Royal Netherlands Navy.


In 1958 NATO produced a specification for a long-range maritime patrol aircraft to replace the Lockheed Neptune, with Breguet's design, the Br 1150, chosen as the winner of the competition at the end of the year. A multi-national consortium, Société d'Étude et de Construction de Breguet Atlantic (SECBAT) was set up to develop and build the Atlantic.[2][3] The first prototype made its maiden flight at Toulouse on 21 October 1961, with the second prototype flying on 25 February 1962, followed by two pre-production aircraft with a longer fuselage in February 1963 and September 1964.[4]

An initial order for 60 Atlantics, 40 for France and 20 for Germany, was placed in 1963, with deliveries starting in 1965 and continuing to 1968. The production line had shut down by the time that the Netherlands placed an order for nine Atlantics and Italy ordered 18. Aircraft from this second production batch were delivered from 1972 to 1974.[5]

In 1978, the French Government authorised development of a new, updated version of the Atlantic, the Atlantic Nouvelle Generation (later known as the Atlantique 2 when orders from other nations did not occur). While airframe and engines of the new aircraft changed little, other equipment and avionics were considerably revised; these included a new radar, a new sonar processor, a replacement tactical computer, and a FLIR turret installed under the nose. The ability to carry Exocet missiles was also added.[6][7] Two prototype Atlantique 2s were produced by converting existing Atlantics; the first of these made its maiden flight on 8 May 1981. Production of the Atlantique 2 was authorised on 24 May 1984.[8] Deliveries started in 1989, with 28 eventually built, from an original requirement for 42.[9][10]

By 2012, the Atlantique 2 had been rebranded as the ATL2; at which point France had a total of 22 in service.[11] In 2012, 18 French Atlantiques were undergoing a series of upgrades to increase the type's effectiveness in two stages, Phase I addressing obsolescence issues and Phase II adding new capabilities.[11] Also in 2012, a separate project was conducted to integrate the MU90 Impact torpedo.[11] Aircraft that received these upgrades shall have an extended service life as well, enabling Atlantique operations to be extended to around 2032.[12]

A further upgraded Atlantique 3 was proposed for the Royal Air Force's Replacement Maritime Patrol Aircraft (RMPA) competition, however it was withdrawn in 1996 following alleged hints from Ministry of Defence officials that the submission had was unlikely to be successful, the competition later selected the Nimrod MRA4 instead.[13] The Atlantique 3 would have been featured various off-the-shelf avionics upgrades, including the adoption of a two-man glass cockpit; the use of uprated Allison AE2100H turboprop engines to drive new Dowty-built six-bladed composite propellers reportedly would have increased power by nearly 10% and reduced fuel consumption by 15%.[14] In late 1996, Dassault intended to offer the Altantique 3 to Germany, Italy, and France.[15] By 2005, Dassault had abandoned marketing efforts on the Atlantique 3, choosing to promote a variant of the Dassault Falcon 900 corporate jet as a maritime patrol aircraft instead.[16]


Cockpit of an Atlantic simulator

The Breguet Br.1150 Atlantic is a twin-engined, mid-winged monoplane with a "double-bubble" fuselage; the upper lobe comprising a pressurised crew compartment, and the lower lobe housing a 9 m (27 ft 6 in) long weapons bay, with sonobuoy tubes aft of the weapons bay. A radar scanner is housed in a retractable underfuselage radome, while a magnetic anomaly detector is housed in a tail boom. It is powered by a pair of Rolls-Royce Tyne turboprop engines.[17][8] An all-aluminium structure is used throughout the Atlantic's frame; corrosion is alleged to be a considerable problem due to environmental factors imposed by the maritime environment.[18]

The Atlantic has been designed for its purpose, instead of refitting or modifying existing designs. Though the primary mission of the Atlantic is anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare, its secondary role includes search and rescue, mine laying and detection, and long-range maritime surveillance.[19] The Atlantic can carry either eight guided ASW torpedoes such as Mk 46 Torpedo or 12 depth charges or two AM.39 Exocet anti-ship missiles in its internal bomb bay. German Atlantics usually carried Mk 46s only and flew unarmed during the last years of their service. Italian Atlantics have been periodically armed with NATO-provided nuclear bombs.[20]

In French service, modernised Atlantiques have been equipped with various new avionics and onboard sensors. Such systems include the RBE2-AA AESA radar derived from the Dassault Rafale, new digital acoustic processing systems, Thales-built IFF systems, DCNS-developed LOTI (Logiciel Opérationnel de Traitement de l’Information) combat mission software.[12]

Operational history[edit]

Atlantic in flight, 2006
External video
Breguet Atlantique Documentary
German SIGINT Atlantic on take off

In 1987, a single Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) Atlanique was operated by France as an airborne headquarters during Opération Épervier, the French intervention against Libyan military units which had been deployed into in neighbouring Chad. Communications intercepted by the Atlantique were immediately decoded and translated before being used to conduct strikes upon Libyan forces with greater accurancy.[21]

The German Marineflieger operated a fleet of Atlantics between 1963 and 2005. A number of these aircraft were modified for Signals Intelligence work and were based at Nordholz Air Base. During the Cold War, they commonly flew across the Baltic Sea and along the border with East Germany; these flight often had American and British intelligence personnel on board in addition to their German crews. During the 1990s, Germany deployed SIGINT Atlantics to observe the United Nations embargo of Yugoslavia and for reconnaissance flights during the Kosovo War in 1999.[22]

In 1992, Germany was considering replacing its Atlantics in the maritime patrol role, the modernised Atlantic-2 was considered to be a frontrunner to be the replacement.[23] In 1996, the planned procurement of a replacement were delayed in favour of a life extension program to enable to the Atlantic fleet to continue in service for a further decade.[24] Germany ultimately elected to replace their Atlantics with a number of secondhand Dutch P-3 Orions. Several German Atlantics have been donated to museums, including the Luftwaffenmuseum and the Dutch Air Force Museum, Soesterberg, Netherlands.[25]

During the 1960s and 1970s, the Atlantic competed with the P-3 Orion to be selected as the Royal Netherlands Navy's next anti-submarine aircraft. The selection process, during which Lockheed Corporation were alleged to have engaged in multiple incidents of bribery,[26] ultimately chose the Atlantic. Fewer Atlantics were procured than originally planned however;[27] and a total of three Atlantics out of the Netherland's nine-strong fleet were lost through a series of failures during missions over the Atlantic Ocean.[28][29] These losses resulted in the grounding of the type in 1981 and contributed to its eventual replacement by the P-3 Orion.

During NATO's intervention in the 1999 Kosovo War, French Atlantics performed overflying surveillance flights of the combat area, flights within Serbian airspace were conducted by unarmed aircraft.[30]

Atlantique flying overhead, 2006

In 1973, in the aftermath of the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, the Pakistan Navy opted to procure three Atlantics from France.[31] In 1999, a Pakistan Navy Atlantic inadvertently flew into Indian airspace while probing Indian air defenses, it was intercepted and shot down by Indian Air Force MiG-21s after the Atlantic ignored instructions and attempts to force it to land at an Indian base; the event become known as the Atlantique Incident. After 36 years of service, Pakistan's remaining Atlantics were formally retired in September 2012, following the arrival of addition P-3 Orions to replace them.[32]

In 2009, a number of French Atlantics were dispatched to Dakar, Senegal, to participate in a multinational search effort to locate the crashed Air France Flight 447.[33][34]

In January 2013, French Navy Atlantique-2s were deployed to act as ground-strike aircraft during Operation Serval over Northern Mali; a number of laser-guided GBU-12 bombs were dropped by the Atlantiques against Malian jihadist militants seeking to overthrow the Malian government.[35] During the deployment, the Atlantique also served as an Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) platform, being able to provide a sustained presence unlike alternatives such as the EADS Harfang unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).[36]

In 2015, Atlantique-2s was deployed to Iraq at the beginning of Opération Chammal against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) forces, initially performing ISTAR and forward air control missions. On 19 August 2015, an Atlantique-2 flew a mission with two Mirage 2000s and dropped a GBU-12 on a command and control building, its first strike mission of the operation.[37] As French military operations expanded into Syria in September 2015, the long range of the Atlantique may prove to be a beneficial factor when performing ground attack operations over shorter range aircraft such as the Dassault Rafale.[38]

Accidents and incidents[edit]

  • 20 September 1968 – A French Air Force Atlantic crashed while performing a display at the Farnborough Air Show, Hampshire, England. Six members of the crew onboard were killed.[39][40]
  • 15 January 1981 - A Dutch Marine Atlantic SP-13A was shadowing the Soviet Navy carrier Kiev in foul weather, with 30 ft waves and blizzard conditions. The Atlantic's crew transmitted a Mayday at 09:58 after suffering control problems after a control rod had failed in the horizontal stabilizer. It was not able to maintain height and was forced to ditch 113 miles west of the Inner Hebrides about half an hour later. Nine survivors were rescued by an RAF Sea King helicopter about two hours after the crash.[41]
  • 18 May 1986 - While flying through a cloud-covered sky, a French Navy Atlantic crashed into a mountain in Djibouti, killing all 19 people on board.[42]
  • 10 August 1999 - At the Pakistani-Indian border, 16 Pakistani Naval airmen were killed in what became known as the Atlantique Incident after intruding into Indian airspace, just a month after the Kargil War.


Br.1150 Atlantic
Long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft.
Atlantique 2
Updated variant, also known as the Atlantic Nouvelle Generation or ATL2.[11]
Atlantique 3
Proposed modernised variant in 1990s, unbuilt.[16]


Italian Navy Atlantic Br.1150
Pakistan Navy Atlantic

Former Operators

  • German Navy - Received 20 Atlantics, with five converted as ELINT aircraft.[44] Replaced all ASW aircraft by ex-Dutch P-3 Orion in 2005, the ELINT version were planned to be replaced by EuroHawk UAVs.[45]

Specifications (Atlantique 2)[edit]

Head-on view of a German Navy Atlantic Br.1150
The internal weapons bay of an Atlantic; two torpedoes are present

Data from Jane's All The World's Aircraft 1988-89 [8]

General characteristics



See also[edit]

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
Related lists


  1. ^ Defence Journal of Pakistan referring to the cost of the airplane with reference to its downing in the Atlantique Incident
  2. ^ Air International November 1981, pp. 218, 252.
  3. ^ Elvert, Schirmann and Lang 2008, p. 182.
  4. ^ Air International November 1981, p.252.
  5. ^ Air International November 1981, pp. 252–253.
  6. ^ Air International November 1981, pp. 216–218.
  7. ^ "Maritime Muscle". Flight International, 27 June 1981. p. 2014.
  8. ^ a b c Taylor 1988, pp. 71–73.
  9. ^ Lambert 1993, pp. 81–82.
  10. ^ Penny, Stewart. "Military Aircraft Directory Part 1". Flight International, 4 August 1999.
  11. ^ a b c d "Projet de loi de finances pour 2013 : Défense : équipement des forces" (in French). Senate of France. 22 November 2012. Retrieved 2013-11-07. 
  12. ^ a b "France Upgrading its Atlantique Maritime Patrol Planes." Defense Industry Daily, 6 October 2013.
  13. ^ Barrie, Douglas and Graham Warwick. "Something old, something new, something borrowed..." Flight International, 15 May 1996.
  14. ^ Jane's All the World's Aircraft. Jane's Information Group. 2002[page needed].  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  15. ^ "Dassault aims Atlantic at European MPA tenders." Flight International, 22 May 1996.
  16. ^ a b "Dassault offers Falcon 900 for maritime patrol." Flight International, 28 June 2005.
  17. ^ Air International November 1981, pp. 213–216.
  18. ^ Nicolais, Meo and Milella 2011, p. 17.
  19. ^ Naval Technology
  20. ^ Harkavy 1989, p. 261.
  21. ^ Air and Weibes 2013, p. 325.
  22. ^ Air and Weibes 2013, p. 134.
  23. ^ "German RFP for maritime patrol is impending." Flight International, 9 June 1992.
  24. ^ "Dassault Aviation." Flight International, 23 October 1996.
  25. ^ Airforce Museum
  26. ^ Noonan 1987, pp. 664-665.
  27. ^ Honig 1993, p. 194.
  28. ^ "Dutch Atlantic crash". Flight International (Reed Business Information). 25 April 1981. 
  29. ^ "Breguet Br1150 Atlantic (SP-13A) - Netherlands Naval Aviation". World Air Forces. Retrieved 4 March 2013. 
  30. ^ Ripley, Tim. "Eagle eye on Kosovo." Flight International, 3 February 1999.
  31. ^ Goldrick 1997, p. 154.
  32. ^ "Pakistan Navy Inducts Another P-3C Orion and Phases Out Br.1150 Atlantic." PTV News, 5 September 2012.
  33. ^ "Search Teams Converge on Presumed Air France Crash Zone." Washington Post, 1 June 2009.
  34. ^ "An Atlantic Model 2 aircraft lands at France's air base in Dakar." Associated Press, 2 June 2009.
  35. ^ "Mali : les Atlantique 2 ouvrent le feu." Air & Cosmos, 31 January 2013.
  36. ^ Tran, Pierre. "Early Lessons From France’s Mali Action Emerge." Defense News, 21 January 2013.
  37. ^ First Air Strike with GBU-12 Against ISIL in Iraq for French Navy ATL2 Maritime Patrol Aircraft -, 22 August 2015.
  38. ^ "France getting ready to bomb IS in Syria." IHS Jane's 360, 7 September 2015.
  39. ^ "British Air Show Crash Kills 6". St.Petersburg Times. 21 September 1968. 
  40. ^ "AIR 20/12163: Breguet Atlantique aircraft crash at Farnborough SBAC display 20th Sept 1968." The National Archives, Kew, 1968.
  41. ^ "Accident Description". Aviation Safety Network. 15 January 1981. Retrieved 18 December 2013. 
  42. ^ "20 Die in Djibouti Crash." Toledo Blade, 19 May 1986.
  43. ^ "Br-1150 Atlantic." Aeronautica Militare, Retrieved 19 September 2015.
  44. ^ Donald and Lake 1996, p.121.
  45. ^ "RQ-4 Euro Hawk UAV Readying for Takeoff". Defense Industry Daily. 15 May 2013. 
  46. ^ including wingtip pods
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External links[edit]