Leonardo’s ATOS mission system: ready to meet South East Asia’s maritime patrol needs


 With a range of requirements in South East Asia for maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) for security missions such as anti-piracy and military missions such as anti-submarine warfare (ASW), Leonardo considers that its “ATOS” (Airborne Tactical Observation Surveillance) mission system, which equips the company’s ATR 72MP and C-27J as well as other platforms, is ready to meet the needs of customers in the region. Customers in Europe, Africa and Australia have already selected ATOS, with more than 60 systems installed on 10 different types of aircraft.

ATOS is a mission system optimised for surveillance. Able to cover vast areas of land and sea, ATOS collects and fuses data from radar, electro-optical camera systems and other sensors to present a clear and comprehensive picture of the operator’s environment. The system integrates information from its various sensors in real time and delivers useful information to the operator, minimising the time and effort needed to understand an ongoing situation. This is essential for Armed Forces, Police or other governmental operators needing to make quick and high quality decisions.

ATOS can also support well-informed decision making through its integration into a wider surveillance network, accessing information collected by other aircraft and naval or ground units. These features make ATOS ideal for a wide variety of missions ranging from the prevention of illegal activities to border control, particularly along coastlines. The modular nature of ATOS also means that its capability can be extended beyond surveillance, for example ATOS is capable of one of the world’s most complex missions: Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW).

One of the most important features of the system is that it can be easily integrated onto any aircraft, whether that platform is new or already in operation. These can range from helicopters up to much larger fixed-wing patrol aircraft. Depending on the size of the platform, ATOS can scale accordingly, with a compact solution for helicopters such as the AW139, while a larger aircraft such as the ATR 72 would feature multiple operator consoles.

Leonardo also offers a complete ATOS-based package, delivering an aircraft integrated with its mission system and sensors. Examples include the ATR families of patrol aircraft (ATR-42/72MP, P-72A) and the C-27J Spartan multi-mission airlifter, which are manufactured by Leonardo and fitted with its own avionics solutions and sensors. This approach is becoming increasingly popular as customers are able to rely on a single supplier to deliver a complete solution.

 ATOS will also soon be able to exploit cloud technologies to draw on vast shared databases, complementing the information gathered by the aircraft’s on-board sensors and further expanding the system’s capacity for analysis and data fusion.

The next step will be the introduction of Artificial Intelligence (AI) into ATOS. This technology will make it possible for the system to process quantities of data that are unimaginable today, ensuring that the operator has an unprecedentedly complete, real-time view of their environment.

The roadmap for the mission system is that it will become increasingly autonomous in terms of analysis, allowing users to concentrate fully on decision making. Data processing that takes several weeks today will, in the future, be completed within hours. The ATOS of the future will be connected to satellites, national and international databases, surveillance networks and, potentially, directly to the Combat Management Systems (CMS) aboard naval vessels, another of Leonardo’s areas of expertise.


Boeing and DSTA signing

Singapore’s Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA) has signed two separate agreements with Airbus Defence and Space, and The Boeing Company to collaborate further and tap advances in digital technologies. Signed on 15 February 2022 at the biennial Singapore Airshow, the agreements will deepen ongoing joint efforts in data analytics.

New data pipeline infrastructure will be created for the seamless exchange of digitised fleet and supply chain datasets. This will allow for improved data analytic insights for the optimisation of aircraft maintenance support, leading to reductions in sustainment cost, improvements in overall fleet availability and higher operational readiness for the Republic of Singapore Air Force.

“We have been actively co-developing digital solutions with an extensive network of industry partners. These new agreements with Airbus and Boeing present exciting opportunities for closer collaboration, with new data pipelines to enable smarter maintenance of our aircraft. By teaming up with these global industry players, DSTA is well-placed to create new technological breakthroughs for the Singapore Armed Forces,” DSTA Chief Executive Mervyn Tan said.


Airbus deepens digital technologies collaboration with Singapore

A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport

Airbus and Singapore’s Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA) signed an agreement at the Singapore Airshow, to advance the co-development of digital solutions for military aircraft platforms.

Extending their first collaborative agreement signed in 2018, both parties will intensify technology exchange and collaboration for the development of digital products and services that will optimise the maintenance and availability of the Republic of Singapore Air Force’s Airbus fleet of aircraft. Co-operation will be fostered in the design and certification of parts produced by additive manufacturing, as well as on data analytics for predictive maintenance.

“This agreement is built on an illustrious partnership driven by innovation and digitalisation. We are happy to have a trusted co-driver in this digitalisation journey and look forward to enhancing the operational capability of the end-user’s aircraft fleet,” said Michael Schoellhorn, CEO of Airbus Defence and Space.

Both parties will also co-develop and implement new data pipe capabilities to facilitate transfer of digitalised datasets to improve fleet efficiency.

In particular, the partnership will tap on Airbus’ enterprise SmartForce suite of maintenance data analytics to streamline fleet maintenance and operation. Both parties will also explore the shared use of data from existing in-service aircraft information systems.

This co-development will support the Republic of Singapore Air Force’s fleet of A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport and H225M Medium Lift Helicopters.

DSTA Chief Executive Mr Mervyn Tan (standing, right) and Airbus Defence and Space Chief Executive Officer Mr Michael Schoellhorn (standing, left) witnessed the agreement signing by DSTA Director Air Systems Mr Ang Jer Meng (seated, right) and Airbus Defence and Space Head of Military Airbus Business Growth Mr Oscar Alonso (seated, left) on 15 February 2022 at the Singapore Airshow.


AW139’s presence in Australasia is growing stronger among military operators

AW139 Royal Malaysian Navy

Over the course of last year, the world’s bestselling AW139 intermediate twin engine helicopter has been growing stronger in Australasia among military operators. New users in Australia and Malaysia have helped expand the already impressive presence of the type for a range of roles in the respective countries. This confirms the whole region as one of the most important for the model (comprising of around 30% of the entire world fleet).

As recent examples, the AW139 has proven the new multirole military aircraft of choice to meet key requirements in Malaysia. Following the introduction in service by Bomba (medevac, disaster relief, fire-fighting), MMEA (maritime patrol and SAR), Police (law enforcement), the AW139 has more recently drawn the attention of the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) and Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN).  The RMAF will induct up to four units, leased from Weststar Aviation Services Sdn. Bhd, mainly for utility transport. The transition to the new model for the operator has been fast with the support of Leonardo Malaysia and leveraging the capability to locally train a large number of pilots and crews (through PWN) in just a few months.  The RMN’s AW139 maritime utility helicopters instead feature dedicated sensors and equipment, including light weapon systems, and will be stationed in Kota Kinabalu. They can carry out a range of missions including, among others, SAR, medevac, utility, and anti-piracy. Deliveries were performed fast and well ahead of schedule. The AW139s add to the RMN’s Super Lynx 300 naval specialised helicopters.

With its best in class performance, cabin space, latest technology and safety standard and true multirole capabilities performing missions in all-weather and environmental conditions globally, the AW139 is the most successful helicopter programme in the last nearly 20 years with more than 1,200 units on order, over 280 users in more than 70 countries. Half of the operators belong to the widest spectrum of military and law enforcement/public service agencies worldwide. Among key operators, the Italian Air Force’s fleet of over 30 units features dedicated variants designated HH-139A, HH-139B and VH-139A with customized mission equipment and able to perform a wide spectrum of missions covering Search and Rescue over land and sea, slow mover interceptor, firefighting, government transport. Furthermore, the US Air Force (USAF) will use the AW139-based Boeing MH-139 to replace the UH-1N fleet.


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