Home Defense Thales’ Game-Changer: Atlantique 2’s AI-Powered Eyes in the Sky!

Thales’ Game-Changer: Atlantique 2’s AI-Powered Eyes in the Sky!

In a recent media interaction, French Defense equipment maker Thales revealed its “cortAIx” entity. One of its videos detailed its efforts to enhance the Searchmaster radar of the French Navy Atlantique 2 maritime patrol aircraft by implementing artificial intelligence.

The official in the video said AI’s inability to contextualize information makes it unsuited for judgment. He said the key advantage is its ability to receive, process, and analyze enormous amounts of data in extremely short periods, providing radar operators with a considerably more synthesized picture.

The video stated that in 2023, trials conducted in collaboration with the Directorate General of Armaments [DGA] and the French Navy evaluated two new capabilities: an “AI maritime detection mode covering large areas intuitively” and an “AI classification function allowing the recognition of the dimensions of hundreds of targets in a few seconds, compared to several minutes previously.”

As a reminder, in November 2022, the French Navy’s Chief of Staff (CEMM) approved the operational service entry for standard 6 of its Atlantique 2 maritime patrol aircraft, marking the end of a nearly ten-year upgrading effort.

In particular, the eighteen Atlantique 2 aircraft that will be upgraded to standard six have new equipment, including tactical computers, sensors, operator display consoles, optronic and acoustic intelligence systems, etc. They have a new version of the LOTI mission software, which is the Operational Information Processing Software, a next-generation digital acoustic processing subsystem (STAN), and an IFF interrogator (TSA2542).

Most importantly, Thales’ Searchmaster active electronically scanned array radar considerably improves Atlantique 2’s detecting capability. Operating in the X-band, it can track up to 1000 targets at once [compared to a few dozen earlier] at short or long range. Thales states that very high-resolution imaging and enhanced target recognition modes will boost operational performance to improve tactical situational awareness, especially under adverse climatic situations.

However, fully using such capabilities is critical, as they may raise the cognitive strain on operators with missions that can last several hours. Consequently, artificial intelligence is applied.

These tests were completely successful, and these artificial intelligence algorithms are planned to be integrated into the Atlantique 2 Standard 6 aircraft in 2025. These initiatives could also assist future Navy surveillance aircraft, such as the 12 “Albatros” scheduled for 2035, which will also be equipped with the SearchMaster radar.



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