The German Air Force has been flying their Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft (MPRA) with the European Union’s anti-piracy Operation Atalanta for the past seven years, and this week the MPRA Detachment reached 5 000 flying hours off the coast of Somalia.
The German aircrews fly missions several times a week, usually along the Somali coastline and they take pictures and videos of vessels or beach areas that could potentially be linked to piracy.
The images are then forwarded to the Force Commander on board the Op Atalanta flagship, FGS Bayern. The images enable the Force Commander to have a bird’s eye view of the area of operations, which in turn, helps him to assess where to place Atalanta warships in order to deter acts of piracy against seafarers the EU Naval Force said.
“It takes ten mechanics three hours to prepare the aircraft for each patrol and on completion of a patrol, the crews then spend another three hours doing post-flight checks”, said the Engineering Officer responsible for the P-3’s maintenance.
With pride in his voice, Lieutenant Commander Kai Hansen, the Commanding Officer of the German MPRA detachment, welcomed the crew back to Djibouti after their nine-hour flight. “5,000 hours in the air can only be achieved with a strong team. The cooperation between crew, technicians and support staff is excellent and means we can continuously contribute to the success of the operation.”