The Spanish government has donated an Airbus Military C212-200MP SAR (search and rescue) aircraft to Mauritania so it can tighten security on its coasts, Spain’s deputy foreign minister says. It joins a similar aircraft transferred from the Spanish Air Force in 2008.
“I’m here to deliver a maritime patrol plane that the Spanish Defense Ministry is offering to the Mauritanian air force,” Juan Antonio Yañez-Barnuevo said last week after meeting with Mauritania’s President Mohammed Uld Abdel Aziz, the African country’s official AMI news agency said.
Though the specific tasks the aircraft will perform were not specified, Mauritanian officials said it will be used to combat illegal immigration to Spain from the Mauritanian coast, AMI said. Yañez-Barnuevo stressed “the full cooperation of the two countries,” and said that at the meeting with the Mauritanian president they discussed a number of matters including “security and development.”
For the Spanish official, the donation is an expression of “the ideal cooperation” between Spain and Mauritania in various fields.
The governments of Spain and Mauritania agreed last April to strengthen cooperation in the war on drugs and terrorism in an official visit of the Spanish secretary of state for security, Antonio Camacho, to Nouakchott. Authorities of the two countries agreed to work at creating a joint police coordination team to fight drug trafficking and to collaborate in training strategic analysis units in the Mauritanian security forces.
Spain operates a fleet of six Lockheed P3 Orion antisubmarine aircraft (in various marks) as well as six Airbus Military CN235 MPA, the latter replacing the C212 in the role. In 2008 Spain also transferred aircraft to Senegal and the Cape Verde. The 2011 edition of the International Institute for Strategic Studies’ Military Balance publication notes Mauritania currently operates two Cessna 337 Skymasters in the maritime role.
A researcher at the French ADIT think tank notes the transfer was made in terms of the Spanish “Plan Africa 2009-2012” and also in the frame of a technical agreement previously signed.