The Luxembourg Maritime Patrol Aircraft Detachment deployed in support of the European Union’s Operation Atalanta has accumulated 4 000 flight hours during 707 operation sorties.
The European Union Naval Force (EU Navfor) said the milestone occurred on Monday when Captain Solomon and his crew were crossing the equator over the Indian Ocean during an anti-piracy sea sector search and commercial shipping escort operating out of Seychelles International Airport.
The Luxembourg maritime patrol and reconnaissance detachment has been uninterruptedly deployed since October 2009 as Luxembourg’s participation to the common anti-piracy effort. It has actively participated in the disruption of 37 pirate action groups.
One of its Fairchild SW 3A Merlin aircraft recently deployed on very short notice to Tanzania where it conducted essential search and rescue coverage following the capsizing and sinking of the M/V Skahik ferry near Zanzibar, the EU Navfor said.
The 15 man strong Luxembourg maritime patrol aircraft detachment operates in close cooperation with the Seychelles Peoples Defence Forces Air Wing as well as assets from other EU and NATO member states. In June last year Luxembourg aircraft passed the 2 500 hour milestone.
The Luxembourg government has funded CAE Aviation to fly two Fairchild SW 3A Merlin aircraft from Mahe in the Seychelles in support of the EU Naval Force. The first flight was conducted on September 29, 2009.
The main tasks of the aircraft are to perform monitoring to locate designated or suspected pirate vessels, mother ships and skiffs and to help build up a complete maritime picture.
Other nations contribute aircraft to the anti-piracy mission, since the beginning of Operation Atalanta, Spain has permanently contributed a Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance (MPRA) capability, with P-3 Orion and CN-235 VIGMA aircraft.
Portugal also has contributed aircraft to Atalanta. The first Portuguese P-3 arrived in Victoria, the Seychelles, to take part in Atalanta on April 21, 2009. It was the first time a maritime patrol aircraft from Portugal participated in the EU Navfor operation.
On March 8, 2009, the Swedish Coast Guard’s Bombardier Dash 8 Q300 turboprop conducted its first anti-piracy flight. It was stationed in the Seychelles for four months. It was the first time a maritime patrol aircraft from Sweden had participated in an international maritime operation.