Italy Looking Beyond P-72s

Leonardo ATR P-72 MSA. Leonardo

SHAH ALAM: Naval News is reporting that Italy is looking for a new, more capable maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) to deliver anti-submarine warfare (ASW) output to counter an increasing submarine threat in the Mediterranean Sea.

The report says:

Italy’s current multi-mission MPA – the Leonardo P-72A – does not carry an ASW capability, instead focusing broadly on maritime surveillance. Entering service in 2016 and 2017, four P-72As were purchased to provide a ten-year interim capability to bridge the gap from Italy’s P1150 Dassault-Breguet Atlantic aircraft to a future MPA.

“We are pretty satisfied with P-72A. Indeed, we are trying to get out of it the maximum operational profit,” said Brig Gen Agresti. However, he explained, the deteriorating Euro-Atlantic security situation means some aspects of the capability gap can no longer be endured.

RNZAF newly delivered P-8A Poseidon. RNZAF

It is interesting to note that RMAF is getting two ATR 72 MPAs -basically the same aircraft as with the Italians P-72A – albeit with ASW capability within the next two years. And despite Malaysia paying for the integration of the ASW equipment on the aircraft, it appears Italy is looking for another aircraft altogether to meet that capability.
Kawasaki P-1 MPA. JSMDF

It was mentioned in the article, that Italy was looking at three candidates, (In alphabetical order, these are: Boeing’s P-8A Poseidon; the Kawasaki P-1; and Leonardo’s C27J ASW. It is likely only the Poseidon will meet the Italian requirements. This is the same thing I gathered when I was going around Asean reporting with Aviation Week a few years ago, on the requirements for maritime patrollers. Most of the officials – military and civilians – I met agreed the Poseidon meets the requirements as outlined in their guidelines for MPA. However, the high cost of the Poseidon meant that they also said it was beyond their budgets.
China latest MPA the Y-9 (above) and the Y-8 (below). Internet

So far in the region and near region, only Australia, , India, South Korea and New Zealand could afford them. Japan build its own MPA – the Kawasaki P-1 – which it had tried unsuccessfully sell to others. The Philippines bought two ATR aircraft modified by Israeli firm, Elbit Systems. Both Singapore and Indonesia has yet to make their selection though the Poseidon remained on top of the shopping list. Again, the higher cost of the Poseidon is the sticking point with both countries.
A RAAF AP-3C Orion landing at Butterworth after conducting the flypast in 2018. The Orion was the MPA of choice of the West and its allies and now its being gradually replaced by the P-8A Poseidon.

As reported previously, RMAF has send its project team to Turin, Italy to oversee the manufacture of its two MPA. The first aircraft is expected to be delivered at the earliest, 2026.

— Malaysian Defence

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  1. It must be stressed that theres nothing inherently wrong with P72MPA and the Italians are actually pretty happy with their current usage. Its just that due to Ukraine war, NATO ramping up, and Russki subs more active presence currently, that the Italians needed something with more legs. Our situation are a lot more different and far more benign than an aggressive Russki bear close by.

  2. At least we can thank the aussies for their semi regular deployment of P-8A in Butterworth

    Right now we need more planes on the sky and ATR-72MPA is probably the best option we have that isn’t jet powered.

    If there’s a need for long range, long endurance, jet powered MPA we could go with the likes of Pakistan’s sea sultan. it’s cheaper than P-8 and doesn’t have the political baggage of getting Kawasaki P-1

  3. Italians military can wish for a Poseidon but it doesn’t mean Italian gov going to bought it for them. IMHO The price of the Poseidon is less of an issue compared to the lobbies of leonardo. And if history is any indicator, Italian military would end up with a leonardo made things that would be less capable than a Poseidon while being more expensive than one because something something national interest somethings.

  4. Haiqal – “Good to know that our MPA have ASW capability”

    Would be also good to know that they spend the needed time on ASW training; in addition to the various other things they have to do and that we get torps and sonobuoy in decent numbers.

    dundun – “At least we can thank the aussies for their semi regular deployment of P-8A in Butterworth”

    Not all the stuff they do is FPDA related or is shared with us. Some taskings in the Indian Ocean and South China Sea obtains intel which is mainly shared with members of the “Five Eyes” arrangement or the “blue eyed club”.

  5. Whether the ATR-72 is ideal for ASW or not, is water under the bridge as we have chosen it as our MPA.

    What we need now, is a batch 2 of the ATR-72 MPA, preferably 4 more units in RMK13 2026-2030. To have a total of 6 units of the ATR-72 MPA.

    Currently there is 2 countries that has operational ASW-capable ATR-72s. Turkiye and Pakistan. Turkiye uses full ASELSAN/THALES system in ATR-72 body, while Pakistan uses system from RAS Germany. Malaysian ATR-72 MPA will use full leonardo systems, which means now there will be 3 distinct ASW capable MPA based in the same ATR-72 airframe.

  6. @hulubalang
    “preferably 4 more units in RMK13 2026-2030”
    Easy to say that. MPA are expensive, its why it took us this long to get it, and before TUDM and TLDM have given their verdict on the usability of ATR72 platform we shouldnt be too premature to jump the gun and buy more. Remember that we still have 3 MSAs on hand plus the 2 Kingair Oceanmaster MPA (which I hope can be ported over to remaining CN235).

  7. With 2x ATR72 otw, the next question is what will happen to the remaining 2 AMASCOS on current Super King Airs after RMAF retired them? Will it and the aircraft handed over to APMM? Will it be moved to other CN-235?

    A wildcard I would like to add is does a relatively large fleet of radar equipt Anka S MALE uas (6x-9x units) can be a more affordable system to operate as MSA in conjunction supporting the ATR-72 and CN235. Will 9x MALE UAS and 6x MPA/MSA be enough to cover majority of our waters (especially the plugging the blind spots left by RMN ships)

  8. luqman – ”Will it and the aircraft handed over to APMM?”

    The question is will the MMMEA want it and given the resources it currently has is the MMEA able to operate it? Those are the questions we should ask; the questions usually overlooked and suggestions of certain things being transffered are made.

    Luqman – ”A wildcard I would like to add is does a relatively large fleet of radar equipt Anka S MALE uas (6x-9x units) can be a more affordable system to operate as MSA ”

    Fitted with radar and ESM and operating under an effective C3 UASs are the perfect complement to manned assets.

  9. @Luqman
    The Anka S MALE uas may not have all the equipment necessary to perform MSA function in a sufficient manner. Case in point even with MQ9 Reaper, there is also the maritime specific MQ9B SeaGuardian.

  10. Current malaysian maritime surveillance capability

    2x King Air B200T, to be retired soon.

    3x CN-235 MSA

    incoming 2x ATR-72 MPA 2026

    2x CL-415 with MSS6000 MSA system.

    2x King Air B350ER with Telephonics RDR-1500B maritime search and surveillance radar.

  11. @Azlan and @joe
    Adding ESM will also further increase the cost as well as replacing the current SARPER radar on Anka (no official statement on what radar Anka have but I think SARPER from Aselsan is very likely), but will incrase the capability of Anka. Anka does not need to be a proper ‘MSA’ per say but able to compliment other MSA at lower capability and cost to operate (ie no need to carry sonarboey or torpedo or ESM/ECM).

    Example, RMAF can consider to replace the very tiny SARPER radar (1kW 70km range) with Seaspray 5000e (8kW 370km), the 5000e weighs 45kg well within 350kg payload capacity and power limit of Anka. In 2010, US DHS fitted Seaspray 7500E on King Air for usd10 million, we can assume 5000e cost usd5-7million. This will give Anka same radar capability with CN235 MSA at reasonable operating costs though still not as powerful as the future ATR72’s 7300e

    370km range radar can cover most of north and east part of SCS (including spratley island) off Sabah and Sarawak. Thus the long endurance and flexibility of 5000e equipped Anka deployed within AAW umbrella of LCS/LMS plus cooperating with manned MSA/MPA will greatly help RMAF in maritime surveillance.

    Yes we cant afford to buy and operate P8 but the above suggestion might help close the capability gap between ATR72 and P8 with more reasonable cost

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