A Danish Defence Force Fennec helicopter is once again taking to the skies in the Mediterranean region, specifically the Strait of Gibraltar, to enhance security and combat cross-border crime. This deployment is part of the European Union’s joint border agency, FRONTEX, whose primary objective is to strengthen security at the EU’s external borders. Denmark has been regularly contributing to various areas in the Mediterranean since 2015. Alongside surveillance aircraft and helicopters, the Danish have also deployed patrol ships and specialized vehicles to monitor the EU’s external borders. The primary focus of these contributions has consistently been the detection, identification, and reporting of illegal migration and cross-border criminal activities within the designated operational areas.
The Danish units operate under the coordination of local authorities who lead and coordinate the missions in their respective areas of operation. In the case of the Strait of Gibraltar, the Danish helicopter is stationed at a Spanish base and operates in collaboration with the Spanish coast guard. Frontex’s Danish units have achieved noteworthy successes in previous deployments. They have uncovered instances of illegal migrants attempting to cross into Europe, as well as smuggling boats transporting substantial quantities of drugs. These discoveries highlight the effectiveness of the Danish contributions in combating illegal activities in the Mediterranean region.
The Fennec helicopters from Eskadrille 724, the Danish squadron involved in this operation, have previous experience in the area of the Strait of Gibraltar, as well as deployments in Slovakia and Greece. The crews on board are familiar with the tasks at hand, as they align with their domestic responsibilities, which include supporting Danish authorities in surveillance and crime-fighting efforts. The Danish helicopter contribution will remain in Spain until the end of November this year. During this time, the crew will continue their vital mission of monitoring the Strait of Gibraltar, aiding local authorities, and enhancing security at the EU’s external borders. Denmark’s ongoing commitment to these operations underscores their dedication to maintaining the integrity and safety of the European Union.
The Eurocopter (now Airbus Helicopters) AS550 Fennec (now H125M) and AS555 Fennec 2 are lightweight, multipurpose military helicopters manufactured by Eurocopter Group (now Airbus Helicopters). Based on the AS350 Ecureuil and AS355 Ecureuil 2 series, they are named after the fennec fox. The armed versions of the AS550 and AS555 can be fitted with coaxial weapons, rockets, torpedoes and various other munitions. Able to fly discreetly in the battlefield with a small silhouette, the H125M has a reduced radar signature through the use of composite materials and infrared-reflective paint. This helicopter benefits from the excellent handling characteristics and easy-to-fly qualities that are inherent in Airbus’ single-engine Ecureuil family – which holds the world altitude record (landing on Mount Everest at 8,848 metres), and is fully operational in high and hot environments.