The French Navy plans to overhaul its airborne maritime surveillance fleet during the coming years.

The main focus of the modernisation thrust is the upgrade of Dassault Atlantique 2 maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) to ensure the MPA remains in service past 2030, according to Aviation Week.

Dassault and Thales are in talks with the French Government about a contract to be signed before the end of 2010 to fully define the scope of the upgrade.

The exact plan of the modernisation programme will be finalised next year, however, upgrades will be associated with the mission system.

Thales vice-president Jean-Francois Henriot said the Atlantiques would receive a new digital sonobuoy acoustic processing system and upgrades to the mission computer and surveillance radar.

Thales expects to integrate its Ocean Master maritime surveillance system on the MPA to improve the ability to track threats, including submarine periscopes in high sea states.

France currently has 27 MPA aircraft, with 22 on the flight line and the first upgraded aircraft is expected to be delivered in 2015.