With a range of requirements in South East Asia for maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) for security missions such as anti-piracy and military missions such as anti-submarine warfare (ASW), Leonardo considers that its “ATOS” (Airborne Tactical Observation Surveillance) mission system, which equips the company’s ATR 72MP and C-27J as well as other platforms, is ready to meet the needs of customers in the region. Customers in Europe, Africa and Australia have already selected ATOS, with more than 60 systems installed on 10 different types of aircraft.
ATOS is a mission system optimised for surveillance. Able to cover vast areas of land and sea, ATOS collects and fuses data from radar, electro-optical camera systems and other sensors to present a clear and comprehensive picture of the operator’s environment. The system integrates information from its various sensors in real time and delivers useful information to the operator, minimising the time and effort needed to understand an ongoing situation. This is essential for Armed Forces, Police or other governmental operators needing to make quick and high quality decisions.
ATOS can also support well-informed decision making through its integration into a wider surveillance network, accessing information collected by other aircraft and naval or ground units. These features make ATOS ideal for a wide variety of missions ranging from the prevention of illegal activities to border control, particularly along coastlines. The modular nature of ATOS also means that its capability can be extended beyond surveillance, for example ATOS is capable of one of the world’s most complex missions: Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW).
One of the most important features of the system is that it can be easily integrated onto any aircraft, whether that platform is new or already in operation. These can range from helicopters up to much larger fixed-wing patrol aircraft. Depending on the size of the platform, ATOS can scale accordingly, with a compact solution for helicopters such as the AW139, while a larger aircraft such as the ATR 72 would feature multiple operator consoles. Leonardo also offers a complete ATOS-based package, delivering an aircraft integrated with its mission system and sensors. Examples include the ATR families of patrol aircraft (ATR-42/72MP, P-72A) and the C-27J Spartan multi-mission airlifter, which are manufactured by Leonardo and fitted with its own avionics solutions and sensors. This approach is becoming increasingly popular as customers are able to rely on a single supplier to deliver a complete solution.
ATOS will also soon be able to exploit cloud technologies to draw on vast shared databases, complementing the information gathered by the aircraft’s on-board sensors and further expanding the system’s capacity for analysis and data fusion. The next step will be the introduction of Artificial Intelligence (AI) into ATOS. This technology will make it possible for the system to process quantities of data that are unimaginable today, ensuring that the operator has an unprecedentedly complete, real-time view of their environment. The roadmap for the mission system is that it will become increasingly autonomous in terms of analysis, allowing users to concentrate fully on decision making. Data processing that takes several weeks today will, in the future, be completed within hours. The ATOS of the future will be connected to satellites, national and international databases, surveillance networks and, potentially, directly to the Combat Management Systems (CMS) aboard naval vessels, another of Leonardo’s areas of expertise.