The Turkish Navy has received the first of six P-72 Maritime Patrol Aircraft (which are based on the ATR72-600 regional transport from the French-Italian consortium Avions de Transport Régional). The ATR72-600s have long range and endurance making them highly suitable for maritime surveillance and submarine hunting. The P-72s feature sensors including:
- a search radar
- an acoustic system with sonobuoy launcher
- an electro-optical system
- a Magnetic Anomaly Detector (MAD) for locating submarines
- a self-protection system (including Electronic Support Measures, Missile Warning System and decoy flares
- an armament system with pylons for two torpedoes
In general, the P-72s are optimised for tasks such as anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, surveillance, reconnaissance, intelligence, over-the-horizon targeting and Search & Rescue. They are able to operate alone or in a combat formation.
The project was signed in July 2012 between Leonardo and the Turkish Aerospace Industries. The first aircraft arrived in Turkey on 19 April 2013, under Project “Meltem III”, for modification. Because of the certification tests, it went back to Italy in July 2016 before returning to TAI for the final acceptance tests in February 2020. Due to the COVID 19 pandemic, delivery to the Turkish Navy could not take place until now, with the remaining five aircraft to be delivered in the run up to 2022.