Saab’s Skeldar V-200 unmanned air system (UAS) has been undertaking anti-piracy patrols in the troubled waters off the Horn of Africa and southern Arabia. The rotary-wing, heavy fuel engine UAS has been flying from the Spanish navy offshore patrol vessel (OPV) BAM Meteoro, operating in concert with a manned helicopter to support the European Union’s Naval Force Somalia (also known as Operation Atalanta) anti-piracy mission. Saab earlier this year announced a contract to “deploy the Skeldar UAS for maritime operations,” but at the time did not name the customer.
In the early hours of 15 May, European naval forces (Eunavfor) carried out their first strike against a pirate base in Somalia. The ships and helicopters of Eunavfor undertaking “Operation Atalanta” have attacked renegade vessels at sea on numerous occasions, but Tuesday morning’s raid was their first strike against targets on shore.
BAE Systems is offering technology and systems integration expertise to ship owners whose vessels are threatened by pirates in locations such as off the Somali coast. Despite BAE’s aerospace heritage, the company is downplaying the role of aerial surveillance and control. The solution lies in better and longer range sensors aboard the ships to detect approaching threats, it says.
As an aid to combating piracy in this region, Alenia has offered the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) the use of two previously owned ATR 42 MP (maritime patrol) aircraft to be operated by a local company on its behalf. Reporting to the defense minister, the MMEA began operations in November last year under the purview of the Prime Minister’s Department.