Rheinland Air Service (RAS) and Aerodata are at the Paris Air Show this week exhibiting the second example of the ATR72 Sea Eagle maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) that the companies have produced for the Pakistan Navy. The first was handed over around a year ago to begin the replacement of the navy’s aging Fokker F27 maritime patrollers.
A contract for the conversion of two ATR72 MPAs was placed in mid-2016, with further conversions planned. The first two former-airline aircraft were operating with the Pakistan Navy in an unmodified state before flying to Germany for conversion, and another ATR72 has been acquired for possible modification.
The Sea Eagle is based on an ATR72 regional airliner that has been outfitted by the special mission division of German MRO company RAS (Hall 2C, Stand C342) at its Mönchengladbach facility. The aircraft’s maritime patrol suite was integrated by Braunschweig-based Aerodata, centered around the company’s AeroMission mission management system.
Included in the equipment suite are a Leonardo Seaspray 7300 e-scan search radar, FLIR Systems Star Safire III electro-optical/infrared turret, Elettronica electronic support measures, satellite communications, and a sonobuoy launch/receiver system. The aircraft has a hardpoint on either side of the forward fuselage for the carriage of torpedoes.
The RAS/Aerodata conversion is distinct from the Leonardo-led program to provide ATR72-600-based P-72A MPAs for the Italian air force that have replaced Dassault Atlantics in the maritime role. Pakistan also operated Breguet Atlantics but retired them in 2012, leaving the Fokkers flying on patrol duties in support of longer-range ex-U.S. Navy P-3C Orions.