While writing my last entry on the German navy reinforcing the EU's Operation Atalanta, I discovered that landlocked Luxembourg is providing two maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) to the mission.
Luxembourg is paying CAE Aviation, based at the country's international airport, to fly two Fairchild SW 3A Merlin aircraft from Mahe in the Seychelles to support the EU Naval Force (EUNAVFOR). Between their first flight on 29 September 2009 and 20 June 2011, the two aircraft flew 440 sorties totaling 2,500 hours in support of Operation Atalanta.
The aircraft use their sensor suite for surface search and scan to locate pirate vessels, mother ships and skiffs and to help build a recognizable maritime picture and have also been used to help vessels under pirate attack, in coordination with other EUNAVFOR helicopters and warships.
In 2009, Luxembourg provided the Maltese armed forces with a CASA 212.CC MPA leased from CAE Aviation for use during an operation by the EU Frontex border control agency to monitor boat people arriving from North Africa.
MPA is not the only aircraft Luxembourg funds. It is also funding an A400M which will be operated by the Belgian air force, as well as the helicopter trust fund for Afghanistan.