Iconic Italy's Atlantic sunsets as the nation introduces P-72A

After 45 years of service, the Italian Breguet Atlantic maritime patrol aircraft has been replaced by the new P-72A.

Breguet P-1150 Atlantic maritime patrol aircraft in a special paint scheme.

The farewell ceremony of the Breguet P-1150 Atlantic maritime patrol aircraft was held at Sigonella air base, home to the 41st Wing Antisom of the Italian Air Force, Sept. 21. During the day, the Italian Air Force unveiled a special Atlantic color and officially introduced the new P-72A maritime patrol aircraft.

The ceremony was attended by Italian Air Force, Italian Navy and neighboring authorities. The Atlantic aircraft, which leaves the Air Force fleet after 45 years of service and over 250,000 flight hours, has taken part in all the recent maritime surveillance operations in the Mediterranean Sea, such as "Mare Nostrum" and "Mare Sicuro" thanks to the daily work of mixed flight crews composed of members from Navy and Air Force.

The P-72A is a maritime patrol aircraft based on civilian ATR72-600 produced by Leonardo, modified by the introduction of specific equipment and sensors to carry out its military tasks and represents a temporary solution until the acquisition of a Long Range Maritime Patrol Aircarft including ASW (Anti-Submarine Warfare) capabiliy.

The first P-72A was delivered to Sigonella on November 25, 2016 and will replace all Breguet P-1150 Atlantic, the oldest aircraft in the Italian Air Force fleet, by the end of 2017.

The new aircraft has already been successfully employed during the G7 summit in Taormina, May 2017. Like its predecessor, the P-72A is assigned to the Air Force and operated by the Navy: usually a mixed crews from the two Armed Forces work together in great synergy.

Thanks to the increased search capability, extended autonomy and low-flying attitude, the new aircraft is essential for patrols and surveillance of operational theaters and national security, as well as search and rescue missions for the safeguarding human life at sea. The net-centric capacity of the P-72A also contributes to creating a persistent surveillance capability to support the country's security and defense needs.

The Atlantic was originally acquired by five nations: Italy, Germany, France, Netherlands and Pakistan.

Written by Matteo Sanzani
Photo credits: Italian Air Force

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