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A French Navy Falcon 50 engaged in Irini near the Libyan coast

(B2) A French Navy surveillance aircraft made a first flight in direct support of the EU arms embargo control operation, the French Armed Forces announced on Wednesday (15 July)

A Falcon 50 engaged in Operation EUNAVFOR Med Sophia (Credit: Sophia - B2 Archives)

Departing from the naval aeronautical base of Hyères in the morning, the Falcon 50 flew three hours north of the Libyan coast. This, in conjunction with the Greek frigate Spetses, the only ship (for now) in the operation and under the command of the EUNAVFOR Med Irini operation headquarters. Objective: to control the flow of ships, possible trafficking (arms and oil), the mandate of the operation set up by the Europeans to control the embargo on Libya.

Observe, report, document

« He was able to observe and report on maritime movements ” in the area, indicates the staff of the armies. It also " interviewed several vessels about their cargo, origin, destination and crew, and took the necessary photos to report them in the most complete way ».

Eight hour flight

After eight hours of flight and refueling in Sicily, the Falcon reached Hyères at the end of the afternoon, after having transmitted to Irini's staff all that it had been able to observe on the spot. NB: what is called in the jargon of the operation 'document facts', then allowing with the appropriate analysis to trace them both to the Member States, but also to the UN if there is clear evidence of traffic exists.

Useful stamina

Maritime surveillance and intervention aircraft, the Falcon 50 “ particularly suitable for this type of operation we say in Paris. It is a reality that we have seen. The Falcon surpasses in real flight hours the German P3C Orion, which comes from the North of Germany (read: The German maritime patrol aircraft P3 Orion C enters the dance… far from the area of ​​​​operation) or the Polish surveillance plane.

Commentary: commitment promised, commitment kept

This aeronautical commitment was planned in the generation of force for Irini. France having promised, according to our information, two days of flight per month (just like Greece). But this commitment is not entirely unexpected either. It closely follows the visit of the French Minister for the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, last week (July 9) to the operation's headquarters in Rome. A visit where she was undoubtedly able to appreciate the lack of means, particularly glaring in terms of intelligence (read: Operation Irini lacks everything, and especially intelligence. The credibility of the EU at stake?). It should be noted that the national navy or the air force seem to have already carried out flights on behalf of Operation Irini, but not under the direct command of the operation.

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

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).