On show for the first time at the Paris Air Show this week was a complete Thales Amascos system, the French company’s contender in the booming maritime surveillance market.
The integrated system weighs less and requires less power than older systems, Thales claims. It ties together radar, Elint, electronic warfare, optronic and acoustic sensors, as well as communications systems and tactical datalinks. It has a modular architecture that enables it to be adapted to smaller aircraft performing surveillance from a single console only, to large aircraft for the anti-surface and anti-submarine missions, which will have four or five consoles. Each console position has two screens that are redundant and interchangeable. The system can be reconfigured during a mission, if the tactical coordinator desires, and this means the aircraft can stay airborne for longer, resulting in a potentially smaller fleet.
“We are masters of most sensors, and we are also strong in maritime C2 architecture, where 50 navies already use our Tacticos system,” Pierre Eric Pommelet, Thales executive vice president, defense mission systems, told AIN. But Thales will adapt Amascos to work with any sensor that a customer specifies, which is more likely to be in the communications and Elint domain, he added.
The company is also platform-agnostic. To date, Amascos has been integrated on Airbus Military CN-235s (Indonesia and Turkey); Alenia ATR 72s (Turkey); Beechcraft King Airs (Malaysia); Bombardier Dash 8s (UAE Air Force); Dassault Falcon 900s (Japan); and Gulfstream IVs (Turkey). The Turkish ATR 72 contract is currently under way, having recently been adjusted from 10 ATR 72-500s to the latest glass-cockpit and more powerful ATR 72-600 version, two of which will be basic utility aircraft followed by six multi-role, torpedo-armed aircraft. They are being modified by Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) in a program called KMeltem 3. Sensors include Thales’ own Ocean Master radar and optronics from local company Aselsan.
Dassault is currently marketing the Falcon 2000 as a maritime recon aircraft–an example was on display at Le Bourget–with the Amascos system. The two French companies are also working together on a further upgrade of the French Navy’s ATL2 that was previewed in the recent French defense white paper. “We expect to get the work,” said Pommelet.