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French Navy ATL2 MPA Can Now Self Designate GBU-12 Laser-Guided Bombs With MX-20 System
 
The French Navy (Marine Nationale) announced that on 18 June 2015, two Atlantique 2 (ATL2) maritime patrol crews were qualified to GBU-12 Paveway II laser guided bomb shooting procedures with self-designation. This flight marked the end of a training course which confronted crews to modern technologies used in air-to-ground support missions thanks to the Wescam MX-20D electro-optical turret fitted on ATL2 Standard V.
The French Navy (Marine Nationale) announced that on 18 June 2015, two Atlantique 2 (ATL2) maritime patrol crews were qualified to GBU-12 Paveway II laser guided bomb shooting procedures with self-designation. This flight marked the end of a training course which confronted crews to modern technologies used in air-to-ground support missions thanks to the Wescam MX-20D electro-optical turret fitted on ATL2 Standard V.
 
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Naval Forces News - France
 
 
 
French Navy ATL2 MPA Can Now Self Designate GBU-12 Laser-Guided Bombs With MX-20 System
 
The French Navy (Marine Nationale) announced that on 18 June 2015, two Atlantique 2 (ATL2) maritime patrol crews were qualified to GBU-12 Paveway II laser guided bomb shooting procedures with self-designation. This flight marked the end of a training course which confronted crews to modern technologies used in air-to-ground support missions thanks to the Wescam MX-20D electro-optical turret fitted on ATL2 Standard V.
     
The French Navy (Marine Nationale) announced that on 18 June 2015, two Atlantique 2 (ATL2) maritime patrol crews were qualified to GBU-12 Paveway II laser guided bomb shooting procedures with self-designation. This flight marked the end of a training course which confronted crews to modern technologies used in air-to-ground support missions thanks to the Wescam MX-20D electro-optical turret fitted on ATL2 Standard V.A French Navy ATL2 Maritime Patrol Aircraft Fires a GBU-12 Paveway II laser-guided bomb during qualification trials. For the first time, the ATL2 was self designating the target thanks to its Wescam MX-20D EO/IR turret. Picture: J.Pons©Marine Nationale
     
The mission took place on the Biscarosse range in south-western France. These qualification firings were made under the French procurement agency (DGA) control for the trajectory of the ammunition and respect of shooting conditions. The French Navy (CENTEX PATSIMAR) was in charge of crews compliance with dedicated procedures. According to the French Navy, the GBU-12 shooting was a success.

The French Navy operates 22 ATL2 maritime patrol aircraft in two "Flotilles" (equivalent to the US Navy's Patrol Squadrons): 21F and 23F. A small number of these aircraft received a Wescam MX-20D EO/IR system as part of an upgrade to increase the ISR capabilities of the platform, especially when conducting missions over desert area. ATL2 crews operate regularly over such areas in support of French ground forces and special forces (as illustrated recently in operations over Mali or Iraq).
     
Video by C.Davesne©Marine Nationale
     
In October 2013 the French Ministry of Defence awarded Dassault Aviation and Thales a contract for the modernisation of 15 ATL2s. The upgrade will consist in a new radar, the Thales Search Master, new IFF, latest-generation digital acoustic processing subsystem, a new core system... and MX-20D systems for all 15 platforms. The upgrade programme will improve the ATL2's ability to deal with new and emerging threats under all weather conditions, both in strategic deterrence roles and in asymmetric conflicts involving quiet and stealthy submarines, high-speed craft, land vehicles, etc. The aircraft will be equipped to remain in operational service beyond 2030.

The ATL2 can deploy Exocet AM-39 anti-ship missiles for anti-surface warfare, MU90 torpedo and sonobuoys for anti-submarine warfare. The new ability to self-designated GBU-12 Paveway II laser guided bombs will allow ATL2 crews to operate on their own: They won't require "buddy lazing" from troops on the ground or from a jet equipped with a laser designation pod.

During the Paris Air Show 2015 held a couple weeks ago, Paul Jennison, Vice President of government sales and business development at Wescam told Navy Recognition "Only Wescam offers an imaging system like the MX-20D. It is very stable and very user-friendly. The MX-20 series offers precise geolocation and high magnification. For these reasons the MX-20 EO/IR system was chosen by many navies for their Maritime Patrol Aircraft such as the US Navy Poseidon and the French Navy ATL2".
     
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All pictures: J.Pons©Marine Nationale