The Luxembourg Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft (MPRA) detachment flew its 1,000th operational sortie as part of the European Union Naval Force (EU NAVFOR) Operation 'Atalanta', it was announced on 16 February.
The MPRA Detachment's Swearingen SW3C Merlin maritime surveillance aircraft have operated out of Seychelles International Airport since 2009 as part of the EU's wider effort to combat piracy off Somalia and the surrounding region.
Having also been temporarily deployed to Mombasa, Mayotte and Tanzania during its tours, the Luxembourg MRPA Detachment has flown over 5,600 hours in all, and been involved in the successful disruption of more than 37 Pirate Action Groups. It has also provided aerial assistance during several search and rescue missions in the region.
The 15-person strong detachment operates in close co-operation with the Seychelles People's Defense Forces Air Wing as well as assets from other EU and NATO member states. Currently deployed alongside the Luxembourg Merlin and Seychelles Dornier Do228 aircraft under Operation 'Atalanta' is a Lockheed Martin P-3C Orion of the German Navy, and an Airbus DS CN235 of the Spanish Air Force.
Surface vessels now taking part in the mission comprise the Hellenic Navy Hydra-class frigate HS Psara , the French Navy's Foudre-class amphibious transport ships FS Siroco (Task Force Flagship), the German Navy frigate FGS Hessen , the Spanish Navy's offshore patrol vessel (Meteoro-class) ESPS Tornado , and the Ukrainian Navy frigate UPS Hetman Sagaidachniy .
Operating within the framework of the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), and in accordance with relevant UN Security Council Resolutions (UNSCR) and International Law, Operation 'Atalanta' was recently extended through to December 2014, though it is likely to be extended further beyond this date.