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The ATR 72 is a joint French/Italian turboprop powered regional airliner that made its first flight in 1988 and is still in production to this day. ATR was created by a joint venture between Aerospatiale (now Airbus) and Aeritalia (now Leonardo) and the ATR 72 was developed from their earlier product, the ATR 42. Compared to the ATR 42 the ATR 72 can carry 30 more passengers with a 4.5 metre longer fuselage, longer wings, greater fuel capacity and more powerful engines. Modernised versions of the ATR 72 are now in production which include a glass cockpit, more powerful engines and a cleaner more environmentally friendly bleed air system. Two specialised military versions have been created for maritime patrol (ATR 72MP) and anti-submarine warfare (ATR 72 ASW) missions. These versions are equipped with sea searching radars, optical system, satellite communications, advanced surveillance systems plus the ability to carry torpedoes under the wings (ATR 72 ASW only).
Italy acquired the ATR 72MP as a replacement for the ageing Bregeut Atlantic which had been in service with the Italian Air Force for 45 years. Known as the P-72A, the type took over Maritime Patrol responsibility when the Atlantic was retired during 2017. Italian P-72s are also fitted with a self-protection suite of jammers and chaff/flare launchers which was originally developed for the C-27J Spartan transport. In total, the Italian Air Force currently operates four P-72s.
A single Italian Air Force P-72A will be appearing on static display at this year's Air Tattoo and will be provided by the 41° Stormo based at Sigonella air base on the island of Sicily. The P-72A will be parked together with other Italian Air Force aircraft both old and new as part of our celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Italian Air Force, it is also the first time the P-72A has appeared at RIAT. Photo Credit: Marco Papa