Although an RFP has yet to be issued, Alenia says it is delighted by the announcement of Malaysian defense minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi at LIMA 2013 that a Maritime Patrol System (MPS) is now the main acquisition priority for that country’s armed forces. The Italians believe the ATR 72MP would be a “natural choice.” The Malaysian requirement is estimated at between six and 12 aircraft.
Alenia says that the ATR 72MP is “a versatile machine,” offering capability beyond the primary missions of detecting and countering surface ships, and anti-submarine warfare (ASW). The ATR 72MP offers the option for passenger transport, medevac or paradrop missions through removal of the four mission consoles and other equipment in the cockpit, while keeping the search and track radar installed in its under-fuselage fairing, as well as the electro-optical turret, ESM, thermal and other sensors on the fuselage. Conversion time is between 2.5 hours (for removal of mission consoles) and six hours (with installation of seats).
The list of radar systems available for installation on a customized ATR 72MP includes Raytheon SeaVue, Selex ES Seaspray 7300E and Thales Amascos (airborne maritime situation and control system).
Maiden flight for the ATR 72ASW version is scheduled for next year and delivery for 2017. This airplane will be armed and carry two torpedoes on its fuselage sides. A real-time datalink can be added.
The ATR 72MP version on offer in Malaysia is based on the ATR 72-600 passenger turboprop with a brand-new glass cockpit that includes five large LCDs. Alenia believes that the 99.6-percent dispatch reliability of the passenger ATR fleet and the fact that Malaysian airlines operate 44 such aircraft and have 33 more on order is significant. So far, 22 ATR 72MPs have been ordered.
Competition in Malaysia is provided by Airbus Military, whose CN-235-200M tactical transports are in service with the RMAF. A scale model of an MP version of the CN-235 was on display at the Thales stand at LIMA 2013.