Naval Air: Twins Rule The Seas


December 30,2008: The Italian Air Force is buying four Italian made ATR-72 twin turboprop aircraft, and equipping them for use as maritime patrol aircraft. The Italian Navy will provide the crews. The 22 ton aircraft will be armed with AM39 Exocet anti-ship missiles, lightweight anti-submarine torpedoes, depth charges, and a pod-mounted machinegun. There will also be a sonobouy launcher, magnetic anomaly detector (to find large metal objects close to the surface), and a self-protection system (chaff, flares, jammers). Sensors carried will include an SAR (synthetic aperture radar) capable of tracking ships 220 kilometers away(when the aircraft is at 3,000 meters altitude).

Italy already operates some of the smaller (18 ton) ATR42 aircraft for maritime patrol, but the ATR72s are to replace the dozen 1970s era Atlantique patrol aircraft. The ATR72 is also on order for the Turkish Navy, which will start receiving ten of them in 2010. The Italians will start getting theirs two years later.