A Portuguese Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) has provided valuable support from the air to NATO’s maritime security operations at sea from October 8 to November 4. The Lockheed P-3C CUP+ Orion MPA detachment was stationed in Sigonella, southern Italy. Thirty crew members deployed, including intelligence, communications and maintenance specialists. The aircraft completed eleven sorties in support of Operation Sea Guardian in the central Mediterranean Sea. It flew a total distance of 17,255 nautical miles in 75 flying hours, covering an area of approximately 940,000 square miles.
Maritime Patrol Aircrafts are a valuable asset in terms of surveillance and reconnaissance, expanding quite considerably the area covered by the surface units. The Maritime Patrol Aircrafts suite of sensors maintain good maritime situational awareness, which leads to information superiority and better decision making. These are critical factors enabling timely allied military action against any specific and potential threats to maritime security in the Mediterranean.
“We use the P-3C CUP+ to the best of its abilities, our multirole missions are diverse but achieved via determination of all my airmen.The P-3C CUP+ will be around for a long time in the Portuguese Air Force and we will continue to operate it with our max capabilities and help it defend Portugal, NATO and the world’s land and waters,” Said the detachment commander, Major Hélder Ferreira.
“I could not be more pleased by the “Lobo’s” professionalism during their recent detachment to Naval Air Station Sigonella. Their team performed brilliantly, providing the situational awareness we need to make timely and prudent decisions in a dynamic environment,” said Commander of NATO Maritime Air, Commodore Illias Raptis.
The Lockheed P-3C CUP+ Orion MPA belongs to the 601st Squadron located at Air Base 11, Beja, Portugal. Known as “Lobos” (Wolfs), this unit regularly operates in the Mediterranean and in the Baltic region. The squadron’s main mission is the maritime patrol, as well as both the anti-submarine (ASW) and anti-surface warfare (ASuW). It also has assigned search and rescue (SAR), and mine laying as its secondary missions. Since the squadron’s activation it has also participated in numerous other national and international exercises, most notably: Ocean Safari, Dogfish, Strong Resolve, Linked Seas, Noble Manta, Sharkhunt, Grampus, and Real Thaw.