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Drones as reinforcements in Operation Sophia

(B2 - exclusive) To strengthen aerial surveillance, after the departure of the ships, Operation Sophia deployed in the Mediterranean (alias EUNAVFOR Med) will benefit from a reinforcement of at least one Predator drone from theair Force

MQ-9A Predator B in flight (credit: MOD Italy)

Italy has indicated its availability to provide a drone to Operation Sophia, according to our confirmed information from a good source. It could be an MQ-9A Predator B, the most advanced and newest version of the drone, with a length of 10,80 m with a wingspan of more than 20 meters, which can fly at 445 km / hour. Alternatively, depending on the means available, a more modest MQ-1C Predator A (length of 8,20 m and wingspan of 14,80 m), which can fly at 160 km/hour, could also be deployed.

Very useful equipment

Able to fly at medium or high altitude, these machines allow the operation to carry out ISTAR missions (intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance), in complete discretion. A definite asset with smugglers. Their great interest is also the much greater flight autonomy (about 36 hours) than that of an airplane or a helicopter.

A tool already used

This deployment of drones in the Mediterranean is not totally new for the Italians. Predator drones from the 28th group of the 32nd wing in Amendola had already been used in the operation Mare Nostrum. A very useful contribution allowing to identify ships in distress as certain maneuvers of groups of traffickers.


Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).