ATALANTA: Spanish Air P3 Orion Detachment Clocks Up 5,000 Flying Hours

Spanish Air P3 Orion Detachment Clocks Up 5,000 Flying Hours within ATALANTA

On Friday 19 July 2013, the Spanish Maritime Air ‘P3 Orion’ Detachment, operating as part of the European Union’s counter piracy Operation Atalanta, reached its 5,000 flying hours milestone.

The 5,000 flying hours milestone was reached at 15:05 local time on Friday, with the Spanish Air Force Detachment, based in Djibouti, having completed 676 flying missions to date.

During the 676th flight, the Spanish P3 Orion Aircrew conducted a reconnaissance mission along the north eastern coast of Somalia to search for and identify potential pirate camps.

The first flight of the Orion Detachment, operating as part of Operation Atalanta, took place on 27 January 2009, and since then the Spanish Air Force has been the only European Union country to have maintained a permanent maritime patrol aircraft for counter piracy operations. To maintain this important maritime air patrol continuity, both P3 Orion and D4 VIGMA aircraft have been used, with the rotation of the aircraft enhancing operational capability and ensuring a high level of Maritime Air readiness.

During the flight on Friday, the crew from VIGMA D.4 were on-board the Orion P3 in preparation for their handover of duties from Sunday 21 July.

The Spanish Orion Detachment has achieved international recognition for its high levels of operational capabiltiy and flexibility of response, having carried out 100% of its assigned missions since March 2012. This 100% mission success is due, in no small part, to the preparation, effort and dedication of the maintenance staff on the ground, together with the air crew, who have spent thousands of hours observing the Somali coastline from the air.

Press Release, July 23, 2013; Image: EUNAVFOR