Luxembourg anti-piracy aircraft fly thousandth mission


The Luxembourg maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) detachment deployed in support of the European Union’s anti-piracy Operation Atalanta flew its 1 000th operational sortie on Sunday.

The aircraft that performed the one thousandth flight, a Swearingen SW3C Merlin leased from CAE Aviation, flew from Seychelles International Airport. Luxembourg has deployed maritime surveillance aircraft to the Seychelles since October 2009 as part of its contribution to Operation Atalanta, the EU Naval Force said.

Based in the Seychelles, with temporary deployments to Mombasa and Mayotte, the Luxembourg maritime surveillance aircraft team has flown over 5 600 hours since the start of its participation. As well as being involved in the successful disruption of more than 37 Pirate Action Groups, it has also provided aerial assistance during several Search and Rescue missions in the region, including the rescue of the crew from a Chinese fishing vessel and dozens of survivors from a ferry boat that sank near Zanzibar.

Last week, the Luxemburg detachment relocated a Seychelles fishing vessel that had sent out a distress message and was missing for more than 3 days, the EU Naval force said.

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 also contribute maritime surveillance and patrol aircraft to Atalanta, such as Portugal, Sweden and Spain.