Spanish Maritime Air Patrol Team Clocks up Impressive 8,000 Flying Hours with Operation Atalanta off the Coast of SomaliaMarch 14, 2016 - 10:07
On Friday 11 March 2016 the Spanish Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft (MPRA), which is currently deployed off the coast of Somalia, landed at its base in Djibouti after completing another flying mission along Somalia’s coastline. This particular flight was far from routine, however, as it meant that the Spanish Air Force crew could celebrate notching up 8,000 flying hours with Operation Atalanta.
This impressive milestone can be attributed to the Spanish P-3 and D-4 VIGMA (the maritime version of the CN-235) aircraft, which have been deployed to Djibouti since 2008. The aircrew and maintenance teams rotate every few months from their home bases across Spain.
Since Operation Atalanta was launched in December 2008, the MPRA detachments have been the Force Commander’s ‘eyes in the skies’. As the aircraft fly along the Somali coastline, analysts on board keep a close eye on beach areas that pirates have used in the past to store equipment, such as ladders and skiffs, in preparation for attacks on merchant vessels out at sea. The analysts also keep a close look out far out to sea for any suspicious vessels that could be used as ‘mother ships’ to attack ships.
As a result of the air patrols a number of pirate attacks on seafarers have been deterred or disrupted.
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