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Atlantic

Origins and prototypes

On December 14, 1956, members of the NATO Council concluded that a high-seas reconnaissance anti-submarine aircraft with a wide operating range was needed.

On January 30, 1959, the NATO armaments committee unanimously selected the Breguet Br 1150 Atlantic (twin turbo-prop Rolls-Royce Tyne) from the 31 projects presented. It was the only maritime patrol aircraft in the world specially designed for its mission and not a variant of a civil commercial aircraft.

This was also the first European-level cooperation project for this type of aircraft, and had the advantage of the navy’s insights on underwater combat. Breguet was chosen as the technical contractor.
SECBAT (Société Européenne de Construction de l’Avion Breguet Atlantic) was hence founded on October 2, 1961.

Atlantic in flight
Atlantic in flight

Production and operational experience

The manufacture was divided between the four participating nations:

  • France
  • Holland
  • West Germany
  • Belgium

Four prototypes were built. The first was flown at Toulouse on October 31, 1961, piloted by Bernard Witt assisted by Romeo Zinzoni and René Périneau.

 

ATL 2 in flight
ATL 2 in flight

The first official order was placed on June 6, 1963. It comprised 20 aircraft for France (plus another 20 ordered later) and 20 for the Federal Republic of Germany. The last of those 60 aircraft was delivered by the end of 1968, at which point the Netherlands decided to buy nine. The French sold four, and the rest came from a second series, launched in January 1972. On October 25, 1968, Italy decided to buy this aircraft. Two Italian firms, Aeritalia and Alfa-Romeo, joined the consortium and production resumed to build 18 units, plus the 4 to replace the ones France had sold the Netherlands. In 1976, the French Navy sold three of its aircraft to Pakistan.

The Atlantic was an aircraft of 43t at take-off, powered by two Tyne turbo-propos of 5,500 hp, with a 12-man crew for missions lasting up to 18 hours, crossing a distance of about 8,000 km (4,300 nm) at a maximum velocity of 650 km/hr (350 knots).

Only France, Italy, Holland and West Germany ordered the aircraft. Yet, it was often cited as a model of international cooperation.