German maritime air detachment departs Operation Atalanta

German Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft (MPRA) detachment which has been flying the Orion P-3C as part of Operation Atalanta is set to return to the home air base in Germany.

50 soldiers from the Naval Air Wing (MFG) 3 “Graf Zeppelin” have been stationed at the Horn of Africa since March 2016.

During their deployment, the German MPRA has provided the force commander, Rear Admiral Kaack, who is currently embarked in the Operation Atalanta flagship, FGS Bayern, with ‘eyes in the skies’ imagery of sea areas which have previously been plagued by pirates.

The P-3C ‘Orion’ is a Lockheed Martin built maritime surveillance aircraft that can be tasked at short notice to provide imagery of a particular area of interest to enable the force commander to react to events and keep the waters of the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean safe for all maritime users.

Germany has supported Operation Atalanta with warships and MPRAs for seveal years. The MPRAs have flown over 5,000 hours to support the maritime units in deterring and disrupting piracy off the Somali coast.

Operation Atalanta retains a maritime capability with the Spanish P-3 maritime patrol aircraft which is also based in Djibouti.