Italy and Frontex now monitor the Mediterranean Sea with large drones

Last week, the EU Border Agency decided on the multi-year deployment of large drones in the Mediterranean, now Italy is following suit. The contractors have already carried out tests for Frontex over the past two years.

The Italian Ministry of the Interior is providing €7.2 million for the operation of drones in the central Mediterranean. The police and the financial police, who is also responsible for border security, will use the unmanned aerial vehicles by day and night against irregular migration from countries such as Libya and Tunisia. The EU Commission is funding 50% of the procurement with money from the Internal Security Fund.

The contract was apparently awarded to the Italian arms company Leonardo. The firm is to provide up to 1,800 flight hours for an initial year. The drones will be stationed at the Sicilian airports of Trapani, Lampedusa or Ragusa. The Ministry of the Interior demands a deployment radius of about 550 kilometres. The contract has an initial term of one year and can be extended twice. „Italy and Frontex now monitor the Mediterranean Sea with large drones“ weiterlesen

German Airbase in Jagel: Waiting for the drones

Only 23 years after a military drone airport in Jagel was decided, large drones could actually be stationed there. But the squadron is already analysing images and videos of drone missions in Mali. In this way, „terrorists“ and „smugglers“ are also being pursued from Schleswig-Holstein.

On 12 April 2005, Peter Struck (SPD), the Defence Minister in office at the time, decided to expand the Jagel airbase between Kiel and Flensburg for large military drones. Since 1994, the 51 „Immelmann“ reconnaissance squadron with „Tornado“ jet fighters has been stationed there with currently 37 aircraft. From 2009, the first „Euro Hawk“ spy drone was to be transferred to Schleswig-Holstein, and a little later armed Bundeswehr drones were also to be stationed in Jagel. For this purpose, the military airbase was extensively converted, and the Air Force spent some 33 million Euros on a new hangar, parking areas, work on the runway and the necessary technology.

However, the German drone programme turned out to be a disaster. After delivery of only one prototype, in 2011, the Bundeswehr had to bid farewell to the „Euro Hawk“ due to certification problems. The failed 600 Million Euros project almost led to the resignation of the then Minister of Defence Thomas de Maizière (CDU). As a replacement, the German government wanted to station three „Triton“ drones from the same US manufacturer in Jagel from 2025 onwards; the Defence Ministry also abandoned this project in favour of a manned aircraft. „German Airbase in Jagel: Waiting for the drones“ weiterlesen

EU pays for surveillance in Gulf of Tunis

A new monitoring system for Tunisian coasts should counter irregular migration across the Mediterranean. The German Ministry of the Interior is also active in the country. A similar project in Libya has now been completed. Human rights organisations see it as an aid to „pull backs“ contrary to international law.

In order to control and prevent migration, the European Union is supporting North African states in border surveillance. The central Mediterranean Sea off Malta and Italy, through which asylum seekers from Libya and Tunisia want to reach Europe, plays a special role. The EU conducts various operations in and off these countries, including the military mission „Irini“ and the Frontex mission „Themis“. It is becoming increasingly rare for shipwrecked refugees to be rescued by EU Member States. Instead, they assist the coast guards in Libya and Tunisia to bring the people back. Human rights groups, rescue organisations and lawyers consider this assistance for „pull backs“ to be in violation of international law.

With several measures, the EU and its member states want to improve the surveillance off North Africa. Together with Switzerland, the EU Commission has financed a two-part „Integrated Border Management Project“ in Tunisia. It is part of the reform of the security sector which was begun a few years after the fall of former head of state Ben Ali in 2011. With one pillar of this this programme, the EU wants to „prevent criminal networks from operating“ and enable the authorities in the Gulf of Tunis to „save lives at sea“. „EU pays for surveillance in Gulf of Tunis“ weiterlesen

Eurodrone delayed by two years

The envisaged date for series production of a European long-range drone is not tenable. The German Ministry of Defence is to be responsible for the delay of at least two years. In the meantime, the project has been transferred to „Permanent Structured Cooperation“. Further governments could join the initiative.

The series production of the so-called Eurodrone cannot begin before 2027. This was written by the Federal Ministry of Defence in response to a small inquiry. At the beginning of the year, the German government had still declared that it „still assumes unchanged“ that the development would be completed by 2025. The Ministry of Defence had also published this timetable for the presentation of a model at the International Aviation Exhibition in Berlin. „Eurodrone delayed by two years“ weiterlesen

Frontex monitors sea border with unmanned airship

In the new Frontex budget, more than two billion euros have been reserved for the procurement of the company’s own ships, aircraft and automobiles. After drones, the EU Commission is now testing other technologies for aerial border surveillance

The Greek coast guard is using an unmanned airship in the Aegean Sea. The so-called Aerostat is used to monitor the sea area off the island of Samos. The pilot project is carried out in cooperation with the EU border agency Frontex and is part of Operation „Poseidon“ in the eastern Mediterranean. The tests last one month and are intended to determine the suitability for the detection of irregular border crossings.

If Frontex detects boats that are not seaworthy while still sailing in Turkish territorial waters, the Agency may inform the responsible Turkish sea emergency centre in accordance with maritime law. Aerial images are also to be used to track smugglers. „Frontex monitors sea border with unmanned airship“ weiterlesen

German Bundeswehr to get 21 „Eurodrones“

Preparations for a European armed drone are entering the final round, and its development is set to begin in a year’s time. Four years later, a first model could be launched for test flights.

The German Ministry of Defense wants to purchase 21 so-called „Eurodrones“. This was written by the federal government in response to a small question. They form seven complete systems, each with two mobile ground control stations. The aircraft are controlled by a pilot and a payload operator, which processes the reconnaissance data. The Bundeswehr will have a total of 16 ground stations, two of which will presumably be kept in reserve. „German Bundeswehr to get 21 „Eurodrones““ weiterlesen

Drones watching Fortress Europe

The market for military long-endurance drones is dominated by two companies from Israel and one from the USA. Their products are now flying missions to monitor the Mediterranean Sea.

The Israeli company Elbit has been commissioned by the European Union to monitor the Mediterranean Sea. The company, which specializes in defence and surveillance technology, announced this at the beginning of November. For two years unarmed drones of the type „Hermes 900“ are to be launched from Portugal for reconnaissance missions. The flights will probably take place in the western Mediterranean around the Strait of Gibraltar. Responsible is the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), which announced such plans two years ago. Last summer, EMSA tested two different drones in a pilot project. With their long endurance, they also belonged to the so-called MALE class, but are considerably smaller than the „Hermes 900“. „Drones watching Fortress Europe“ weiterlesen

EU researches drone swarms for maritime surveillance

With the support of the EU, arms companies want to try out how 20 different drones can be networked in the air and at sea. Tests will take place in the Mediterranean Sea and the Baltic Sea. In two years „Ocean2020“ should deliver first results.

The European Union is funding a research project on the integration of drones and unmanned submarines into fleet units. According to the EU Commission, the „Ocean2020“ project will be used for „maritime surveillance and interdiction missions at sea“ and other military purposes. The information gathered on the swarms of drones provided the „commanders“ with a „comprehensive picture“ of developing situations, together with findings from other systems. The military project „Ocean2020“ is financed by the European Defence Fund, for which the EU Commission has approved 35 million euros. First results should be available in 2020. „EU researches drone swarms for maritime surveillance“ weiterlesen

European military drones to fly alongside civilian aircraft

Until now, army drones fly in segregated airspace, but soon they will also be allowed for civil airspace. For this purpose, military companies are developing automatic avoid systems. The „Eurodrone“ will be the first to implement this as standard; in Germany, the „Triton“ spy drone may be faster.

The European defence companies Airbus, Dassault and Leonardo want to develop the armed „Eurodrone“ to production readiness by 2025. The medium-altitude-long-endurance drone (MALE) should then be flown by the Bundeswehr and other armies of the EU. In Germany, military drones have so far been operating exclusively in specially reserved airspaces. That could change soon: The Eurodrone is to be fully integrated into the so-called controlled airspace. „European military drones to fly alongside civilian aircraft“ weiterlesen

European border surveillance in Libya

The shifting of the EU’s external borders to North Africa is generating profits for defence companies

The European Union is stepping up efforts to protect its external borders. The focus is on developing the Frontex Border Agency into a European Border and Coast Guard Agency. Another pillar of EU migration policy is the transfer of border security to third countries. Particular attention is paid to the maritime borders in Libya and neighbouring countries. Furthermore, most of the migrants reaching the European Union via the Mediterranean come from Libya. Their absolute number is declining, yet in 2017 almost 119,000 people fled.

The fragile „unity government“ in Tripoli controls only a fraction of the land borders. However, their military coastguard and civilian maritime police are responsible for those stretches of the coast from which many depart for the EU. Shortly after the fall of Muammar al-Gaddafi in 2011, the EU wanted to integrate the Libyan coastguard into its surveillance systems. Control centres in Tripoli and Benghazi should be connected to a Mediterranean Cooperation Centre (MEBOCC) based in Rome. Border authorities from Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, Malta, Greece and Cyprus are joining forces there and communicating via the „Seahorse Mediterranean“ network. „European border surveillance in Libya“ weiterlesen