The ATR-72 Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) is a versatile platform capable of performing various missions, including maritime surveillance, search and rescue, and anti-submarine warfare. In recent months, the Pakistan Navy has successfully incorporated the Sea Eagle, its fourth ATR-72 maritime patrol aircraft, into its fleet. In this article, “ATR-72 Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) A Complete Guide,” a thorough overview of the aircraft’s features and systems will be provided, including a detailed discussion of its weaponry and electronic support measures. Let us begin exploring the capabilities of this new addition to the Pakistan Navy’s maritime patrol aircraft fleet.
What is ATR-72 (MPA)?
The ATR-72 is a passenger aircraft with twin-engine turboprop technology, designed and manufactured by ATR – a joint venture of Airbus and Leonardo. This aircraft model is built upon the foundation of the ATR-42 model, with more than 1,000 units delivered to airlines in Europe, Asia, and other regions since its first flight in 1988. The aircraft’s commercial success has led to its adaptation for military use, such as the ATR-72 MP (P72) maritime patrol aircraft developed by Italian company, Leonardo, and the RAS-70 Maritime Patrol Aircraft configured by German company, Rhineland Service. Pakistan Navy selected the RAS-72 variant, also known as the Sea Eagle, which we will cover in detail shortly. Let’s begin by examining the fundamental characteristics of this aircraft.
ATR-72 Basic Features
The RAS-72, which runs on twin Pratt & Whitney PW 127 engines, generates 2750 horsepower per engine. It boasts a maximum cruising speed of 465 km and can reach a maximum altitude of 25,000 feet, with an endurance of 5 hours at a height of 5000 feet. With a take-off weight of thirty thousand kilograms, the aircraft can offer four hard points, two at the front fuse lodge and two at the rear, according to Rhineland Air Service. Lightweight anti-ship cruise missiles can be fitted to these points, enabling the RAS-72 to be utilized for maritime surveillance, anti-submarine operations, and anti-ship missions.
The RAS-72 is fitted with the SeaSpray 7300E radar, a product of Italian company, Leonardo. The radar operates on AESA technology and is primarily used for surface surveillance and targeting. The SeaSpray 7300E is also featured in Leonardo’s P702 maritime patrol aircraft and can cover a range of over 590 kilometers. Additionally, the X-band radar offers a synthetic aperture radar mode that provides high-resolution images of the ground. This feature makes the radar suitable for both land and sea-based surveillance operations. Furthermore, the RAS-72 comes equipped with various off-the-shelf subsystems from prominent companies such as Italian, German, and British.
ATR-72 Electronic Support Measure
The RAS-72 is outfitted with an electronic support measures suite that includes electronic intelligence equipment and defense ad systems (DAS) provided by Electronica, an Italian company. The DAS incorporates a fixed radar warning receiver, laser warning receiver, and chaff and flare systems. Nevertheless, it remains unclear whether the DAS includes an electronic support measures suite or not. The electronic intelligence equipment, on the other hand, enables the aircraft to observe and record enemy radar emissions. It comprises ten antennas mounted on both sides of the fuse box.
ATR-72 Electro-optical and infrared sensors
The RAS-72 is equipped with the American-made Star Sapphire III Forward Looking Infrared System (FLIR), which is already utilized by the Pakistan Air Force on its C-130 aircraft for mapping and surveillance purposes during military operations. The FLIR system provides a vast area survey capability to the crew of the RAS-72, as well as the capability for laser target designation. This enables the RAS-72 to deploy guided air-to-ground munitions, such as the Hellfire and Turkish UMTAS guided missiles, with precision.
ATR-72 Tactical Data Link
Pakistan Navy has incorporated the RAS-72, which is equipped with the Green Tactical Data Link, into its fleet. The RAS-72 can receive and share information from the Naval Information Exchange System, just like other Link Green platforms. As a result, it can provide targeting support and situational awareness to other assets of Pak Navy, including the Azmat class fast attack craft. With this capability, the Azmat-class fast attack craft can effectively utilize its long-range anti-ship missiles.
ATR-72 Mission Management System
The RAS-72 Pak Navy aircraft is equipped with the Aero Mission system, a mission management system from the German company Aerodata. This system links all of the aircraft’s sensors, including the advanced sensors such as the AESA radar, electronic intelligence suite and electro-optical sensors, to provide the operator with a clear and concise image of the situation. The Aero Mission Suite is crucial for supporting the intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance functions of the RAS-72, and helps to streamline operations for the Pakistan Navy.
ATR-72 Satellite Communication
The RAS-72 Sea Eagles of the Pakistan Navy come equipped with satellite communication systems featuring U-band terminals. This is due to the Pak Set 1R’s use of KU band transponders. With the ability to communicate beyond line-of-sight, the satellite communication system allows the RAS-72 to transfer sensor feeds, greatly enhancing its operational capabilities.
ATR-2 Weapon System
Pakistan Navy has configured the RAS-72 for anti-submarine warfare by equipping it with two hard point light-weight torpedoes. Though this aircraft has the capability of carrying additional anti-ship missiles, it will primarily serve a limited anti-submarine or anti-surface role. Pakistan Navy plans to utilize the RAS-72 for intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and search and rescue purposes, and if required, it can also serve in an anti-submarine role. For airborne anti-submarine and anti-ship warfare roles, the Pakistan Navy is more likely to use its jet-powered long-range maritime patrol aircraft, the Sea Sultan.
Pak Navy’s Sea Eagle Program
Pakistan Navy has currently acquired and inducted four RAS-72 Maritime Patrol Aircraft, also known as Sea Eagle. It remains uncertain if there will be additional orders since the Sea Sultan Long Range Maritime Patrol Aircraft program is also underway.
This article aims to provide a comprehensive guide to the ATR-72 Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA), also known as the Sea Eagle RAS-72. You’ll discover everything you need to know about its features, operational capabilities, and potential roles in this complete guide. Share your thoughts in the comments, and if you found this article informative, kindly share it with others.