Denmark deploying anti-piracy aircraft to Africa in January


The Danish defence ministry has announced that it will deploy a Bombardier Challenger aircraft to patrol for pirates off Somalia from January next year.

Denmark’s defence minister Nick Haekkerup on Friday said that, “when the monsoon period is over pirates will have better chances and so we have decided to send the aircraft to the area.” It will be deployed for an initial two month period.
“Other countries have aircraft there, but it is a gigantic nautical area, Haekkerup said. “Therefore it is important to know where to place the ships,” something the aircraft will assist in.

In addition to the Challenger jet, Denmark will deploy the support and command ship Absalon to the seas off Somalia, starting from November. It will join NATO’s Operation Ocean Shield for six months.

The decision to deploy the aircraft was confirmed at a meeting of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Danish Parliament on Friday.

The Royal Danish Air Force has three Bombardier CL 604 Challenger aircraft in service. They are primarily used for VIP transport.

Several other nations have deployed aircraft to patrol for pirates off the African coast. Most recently, on 19 October the Indian Air Force began basing a Dornier 228 maritime patrol aircraft in the Maldives for a period of three weeks. India in February deployed a Dornier 228 to the Seychelles and has promised the island nation its own Dornier patrol aircraft as well as two HAL Chetak light helicopters.

Earlier this year Luxembourg sent two Fairchild SW 3A Merlin aircraft to the Seychelles as part of the European Union’s Operation Atalanta. Earlier this month it was announced that a German Navy Lockheed P-3C Orion was being stationed in Djibouti to carry out anti-piracy patrol. Meanwhile, Spain has deployed P-3s and CN-235 maritime patrol aircraft to Djibouti to support Atalanta.

Somali pirates, operating from the shores of the lawless state in the Horn of Africa, have raked in millions of dollars a year in ransoms from scores of hijacked ships from around the world, including oil super tankers.

Pirates attacked a record number of ships worldwide in the first nine months of 2011, but are making off with fewer vessels due to better policing by international naval forces.

Around 17 ships are currently being held by the pirates who can operate hundreds of miles from the Somali coast.