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Under water and in the air. A German submarine and a French drone in Operation Irini

(B2) A submarine will lend a hand to the European operation to monitor the embargo off the coast of Libya

Departure of the submarine from its base in Eckernförde (credit: Deutsche Marine)

Under water, un little submarine

Committed to the area within three weeks

The submarine 'U 35', of the first submarine squadron, left its home port of Eckernförde this Saturday (June 12) to take the route of the central Mediterranean. Arrival on site: within three weeks, after a stop for refueling in Rota (southern Spain). Duration of the mission: four months.

Objective: to provide surveillance over a fairly large operational area which extends from the south of the island of Sicily to the territorial waters of Libya and Tunisia. Between the dives, the U-boat will be based in several ports in Italy (NB: in Sicily in particular) and on the island of Malta. A longer stopover is more planned on the Greek island of Crete, in mid-summer, with regrouping for families.

On board, 29 sailors, under the command of Lieutenant Commander Oliver Brux (34 years old) and some students from the squadron, who will benefit from this experience "for intensive training in operations on board" as specified by the German navy. The maximum capacity of 36 people this small submarine is thus fully exploited.

In the air, a French drone

A Reaper left Cognac to monitor the area

For its part, the French Air Force announced on Thursday that it had engaged a Reaper MQ-9 drone for the benefit of the European operation. This device, which can fly more than 24 hours in autonomy, left the air base 709 of Cognac last Saturday (June 5) and evolved “ in dedicated air corridors, to the central Mediterranean “says the press release from the Air Force. Ordered in real time from CDAOA (Air Defense and Air Operations Command) in Lyon, this flight reaffirms the commitment of France and its allies to respect for international law in the region ».

An operational and technical test

For the Air Force, this mission is also a full-scale test. He " makes it possible to envisage a high level of monitoring "especially in the event of a combined flight of the Reaper with an AWACS, " two perfectly complementary vectors ". The data collected in this way on maritime and air traffic in the area is transmitted to those in charge of the operation, whether national or allied. It also allows " answer many technical and operational questions "before considering, " if necessary, this type of mission in other engagement frameworks ».

Comment: tools of absolute discretion

These two means have a big advantage: to ensure discreet surveillance over a large area, with a large autonomy. The submarine, operating underwater, can discreetly follow the movements of suspicious ships, including military ships, in the open sea and closer to the coast in particular. Ditto for the drone which has the advantage of covering a larger area, in particular ports and airports, including on Libyan territory... The performance of the sensors is an undeniable asset for the IRINI 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).