Cdr Flatman with the Commanding Officer of the 22nd Grupo, SPAF, Lt Col Juan Ferrero, and his Orion team

Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) Chief Air Coordination Element (ACE) recently visited Djibouti to witness Japanese and Spanish Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) operations.

The Chief ACE, Commander (Cdr) Tim Flatman of the Royal Navy, visited the Forward Operating Base with the primary aim of engaging with the Japanese P3 detachment (Deployment Air-Force for Counter-Piracy Enforcement or ‘DAPE’), and the Spanish P3 detachment (ORION).

Cdr Flatman also took the opportunity to visit the French Atlantique 2 detachment and the Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) staff at Camp Lemonnier in order to discuss broad Air de-confliction measures.  The visits included briefs as well as aircraft tours, and all discussions enhanced the overall understanding of the operational and tactical-level challenges facing CMF.  They will also allow for better co-ordination between CMF, EU and NATO planning.

Cdr Flatman said: “Overall it was incredibly useful to spend time with the MPA detachments, not just to finally put faces to names, but fundamentally to see first-hand how the crews operate and discuss the challenges they face.  This capability is vital to the success of CMF operations so I am immensely proud to work with international partners of such a high standard.”

CMF was created post 9/11 to help counter the threat from terrorism but the mission has expanded to include counter-piracy operations.  Commanded from its headquarters in Bahrain, CMF operates three CTFs across 3.2 million square miles of ocean.

When combating piracy no single nation or navy could possibly have enough ships to cover the huge expanses of water. However, while operating within international law, CMF achieves results by working together, pooling resources and actively supporting regional maritime forces.  MPA greatly increase the capability of CMF to find and track dhows and other vessels that might be involved in illicit activities, as well as helping to build the overall Maritime ‘Picture’.

Cdr Flatman with the Commanding Officer of the 24th DAPE, Cdr NAoki Abe, and his team
Group discussion with 24th DAPE operations staff and aircrew
Presentation with Cdr Abe
Discussion with ORION detachment operations staff and aircrew