The Spanish air force’s anti-piracy detachment deployed in Djibouti as part of Operation Atalanta has accumulated 7 000 flight hours.
The Spanish ministry of defence made the announcement on 18 May, saying that the 7 000th flight hour was reached by a CN-235 maritime surveillance aircraft from 802 Squadron in late April off Somalia. The 7 000 hour milestone was celebrated during a ceremony held on 16 May.
The ministry said that since the beginning of Atalanta, Spanish CN-235s and P-3 Orions have been conducted an average of 12 missions per month. They have so far flown 933 missions and taken more than 120 000 photos and images of about 30 000 vessels and travelled a distance equivalent to 50 times around the world.
The first flight of the Orion Detachment, operating as part of Operation Atalanta, took place on 27 January 2009, and since then the Spanish Air Force has been the only European Union country to have maintained a permanent maritime patrol aircraft presence for counter piracy operations.
To maintain this important maritime air patrol continuity, both P3 Orion and CN-235 aircraft have been used.