Prime, Subcontractors Eye Maritime Patrol Market

By Amy Butler
Source: Aviation Week & Space Technology
June 24, 2013
Credit: Tony Osborne/AWST

Abundant opportunities in one of the few defense markets poised to grow despite the economic downturn are separating the prime contractors from the “subs.”

Aerospace companies are taking different approaches to securing work in the airborne maritime surveillance and patrol arena, which defense analysts estimate at $80 billion in the next 10 years.

As indigenous funding streams dry up, companies in the Americas, Europe and the Middle East are looking to secure a foothold abroad to meet he growing need for maritime surveillance. Numerous countries face increasing challenges in monitoring sea lanes, thwarting piracy and conducting anti-submarine operations and training.

This trend has platform and sensor providers taking discrete approaches to a market that runs the gamut—from sophisticated customers such as Singapore and Taiwan to smaller nations with limited resources, such as Brunei.

To capture this market, two different tactics are crystallizing. Platform providers are pushing to sell integration of intelligence-collection gear onto their aircraft as well as long-term sustainment or services. Traditional payload providers, by contrast, are offering more flexible alternatives, allowing for use of existing platforms owned by customers. This, they say, could prove financially beneficial for countries that lack the infrastructure or skill set to introduce new aircraft models into service.

In Europe, Thales and Dassault Aviation are poised to begin work on a long-planned midlife upgrade to France's Atlantique 2 maritime patrol aircraft this year, which is currently supporting combat missions in Mali.

Thales is proposing its scalable Amascos maritime mission system, which company executives say has matured under a contract signed with Turkey in 2004 to modify CASA C295 transports for the Turkish coast guard and navy. Under a separate program, Meltem 3, Thales is providing the Amascos to Alenia Aermacchi for integration onto its ATR-72 platform.

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