On Wednesday 4 June, a flight operator of the Djiboutian based German Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft (MPRA) P-3C Orion crew reached an impressive 3,000 flight hours’ milestone.
The German Navy flight operator reached his 3,000 hours during an operational flight with the EU Naval Force counter-piracy mission, Operation Atalanta. The flight operator started his career in the German Navy Aeronautical Service in 1998.
Speaking about his role, the senior Chief Petty Officer stated: “As an Above Water Warfare (AWW) operator, I am responsible for the handling of different sensors and serve as the visual observer.”
During a flight he operates the on board high definition camera, which enables the MPRA crew to capture detailed aerial images of shipping and coastline around the Horn of Africa.
The German MPRA is equipped with several advanced surveillance systems which significantly enhance the EU Naval Force’s intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capability in the Somali Basin and Gulf of Aden. Due to their high level of endurance and transit speed these aircraft are a key asset in an area of operation, which is approximately one and a half times the size of mainland Europe. Information about pirate and shipping activities are gathered and a pattern of life of the shipping at the Horn of Africa is compiled.
The military airbase in Djibouti serves as a logistical base for the German MPRA Detachment. The Detachment is part of EU Naval Force in Operation Atalanta. It supports the warships of the operation by delivering aerial pictures and comprehensive reconnaissance in the fight against piracy.
Press Release, June 12, 2014; Image: EU NAVFOR