The Force Commander of European Union Naval Force Operation Atalanta (EU NAVFOR), Rear Admiral Enrico Credendino, visited the detachment of the German and Spanish Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft (MPRA), which are deployed in the French Airbase, Djibouti and form part of the EU NAVFOR Task Force. He also visited the Japanese Deployment Air-force for Counter Piracy Enforcement (DAPE).
MPRAs are fixed-wing aircraft, equipped with modern electro-optical sensors and capable of patrolling at range, thus enhancing EU NAVFOR's counter-piracy capabilities off the Gulf of Aden and the Western Indian Ocean.
Speaking about the MPRA capabilities, the German MPRA Detachment Commander, Lieutenant Commander Daniel Peter said "During a patrol we can cover a vast area. We are the long range 'flying eyes' of the EU's counter piracy force". The German MPRA has been part of EU NAVFOR Operation Atalanta since September 2011. Spain has contributed with a MPRA since the beginning of the Operation, in December 2008.
During a chat with EU NAVFOR Commander the Spanish Air Force Detachment Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Rafael Rubio Garcia said "Our main task is to overfly Somali shorelines and report what we see. We perform Surface Search and Scan of vessels to help build the Recognized Maritime Picture".
"The support given to the MPRAs at the French Air Force Base is of crucial importance in the fight against piracy in the Gulf of Aden and off the Somali Coasts" said Rear Admiral Credendino while meeting Colonel Julien Sabene, Commander of the French Airbase.
Besides EU NAVFOR, the Japanese Air Force also has its own MPRAs based in the vicinity of Djibouti airport. The Japanese Deployment Air-force for counter Piracy Enforcement (DAPE) is an independent deployment of two MPRAs and is commanded by Captain Akira Shikishima, who welcomed Rear Admiral Credendino and part of his staff during a visit to DAPE.
"We are both here to combat the same enemy and cooperation between our forces is a key element in the area" Rear Admiral Credendino said at the end of his visit.