Pakistan Navy’s RAS ATR-72 Sea Eagle MPA

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RAS ATR-72 Sea Eagle MPA
RAS ATR-72 Sea Eagle MPA

The RAS-72 Sea Eagle is a modern turboprop Maritime Patrol Aircraft intended for maritime Intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance (ISTAR), Anti-Submarine (ASW) and Anti Surface Warfare (ASW). Two aircraft have been delivered to the Pakistan Navy till date and 2 more will be delivered next year.

These systems will replace the Pakistan Navy Fokker F27 aircraft and will complement the 10-jet powered LRMPAs set to be inducted.

Off-the-shelf French-Italian ATR 72-500s are bought and then modifications are carried out by German defense contractor RAS (Rheinmetall Airborne Systems) which installs a huge variety of American, German, British and Italian subsystems, weapon systems and sensors.

RAS combines German engineering with state-of-the-art mission equipment from leading OEMs, and developed a truly unique, reliable multi-role special mission aircraft.

The Sea Eagle is a modern multi-role maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) with anti-submarine warfare capabilities and equipped with state-of-the-art technology for superior situational awareness. The aircraft is equipped with a long-range Leonardo Seaspray 7300E 360° X-band AESA multimode radar for surveillance and target acquisition, with a 600 km range. The AESA radar also has a synthetic aperture radar (SAR) mode to provide high-resolution images for surveillance operations over sea or land.

Onboard FLIR Star SAFIRE III Electro-optic/infrared (EO/IR) turret and sensors deliver aerial, maritime, and ground surveillance at day or night and provides the crew with the capability to survey areas using imaging/video feeds in multiple modes and also operates as a target laser-designator, which would allow the RAS-72 to deploy laser-guided air-to-ground missiles as well.

Moreover, the aircraft features an acoustic processing system with sonobuoy launchers and two external weapon hard points (can be modified to 4 hard points) for torpedoes and missiles, enabling unique maritime and anti-submarine warfare capabilities.

Labeled Diagram of RAS ATR-72 Sea Eagle MPA
Labeled Diagram of RAS ATR-72 Sea Eagle MPA

The installed mission systems and sensors are managed by the Aerodata AeroMission Management System. The AeroMission can display feeds from the installed sensors on each control station and has a sensor fusion algorithm, providing the onboard crew with concise and comprehensive situational awareness and then relaying that via tactical data link, reportedly ‘Link Green’ a tactical data link (TDL) protocol/system indigenously developed by Pakistan, to other surface and airborne assets. RAS-72 will be able to exchange and receive data with Pakistan’s Naval Information Exchange System (NIXS) which uses Pakistani military satellites. This enables the RAS-72 to provide situational awareness and targeting support to the Pakistan Navy’s Azmat-class FAC-Ms, allowing them to fully use their long-range anti-ship missiles against targets locked on by the Sea Eagle.

Satellite communication (SATCOM) suite is also available onboard, with Ku-band terminals for utilizing Pakistani military satellites like the PakSat-1R enabling the RAS-72s to communicate and transfer sensor feed data at beyond-line-of-sight (BLoS) range.

BLoS & Satellite Communication Dome of RAS-72 Sea Eagle
BLoS & Satellite Communication Dome of RAS-72 Sea Eagle

Onboard ELINT sensors, offer the ability to monitor and record radar emissions (and build an electronic warfare threat library). The ELINT suite uses reportedly 10 antennas configured to both sides of the fuselage. Electronic support measures as well as airborne self-protection suit, countermeasures and Defensive Aid System (radar warning receiver (RWR), laser-warning receiver (LWR), and a chaff/flare system) are also part of the RAS modifications for Pakistan Navy and are supplied by Electronica Group, a European leader in Electronic Warfare.

The aircraft has been retrofitted with state-of-the-art weapons and sensors that will substantially enhance Pakistan Navy’s air operations. The RAS Sea Eagle is the first aircraft in its class offering both MPA and ASW capabilities, unparalleled performance, and reliability along with superior sensor fusion and networking.

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