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The Armed Forces of Malta has officially rolled out their second maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) during a ceremony at their Air Wing base in Luqa Airport.

The ceremony was presided over by the Hon. Prime Minister Dr. Lawrence Gonzi, who said that this aircraft, the second of its type on the local military register, “is part of an extensive investment programme that is being undertaken” in all AFM which is aimed at ensuring that Maltese troops are equipped with the latest hardware and technology to meet the challenges of their duties.

Whilst thanking the Government and its various ministries, AFM Commander Brigadier Martin Xuereb added that this new MPA reaffirms the AFM’s commitment to serve the nation by protecting its interests as well as securing Europe’s southern borders.

The MPA procurement project, with its total value of over €19 million, has also seen AFM pilots and aircraft technicians trained on the Hawker Beech King Air B200 along with mission system and related field support operators.

The project was co-financed by the EU’s External Borders Fund (EBF), which has financial solidarity mechanisms to support EU States who would be enduring a lasting and heavy financial burden arising from the implementation of common standards and surveillance of external borders and visa policy.

Nearly exactly a year to the date, the AFM Air Wing had rolled out the first MPA as part of the EBF co-financed project. Dr. Manfred Haverland, managing director of the MPA’s German specialist-mission equipment outfitters Aerodata AG, said that this second aircraft provides a further reinforcement of AFMs capabilities in an uncertain political situation in the countries around the Mediterranean Sea, particularly with the ongoing conditions in neighbouring states.

The King Air type of aircraft is a well proven and tested design with more than 6,000 examples sold worldwide and operated in various configurations by other law enforcement agencies and military services. The King Air MPA is operated by a crew of five, two pilots, a mission system operator and two observers who are also trained as mission system operators.

Communications include internet, discreet satellite phone and high frequency radio at each occupant seat. The mission system operator’s station has all the required communication equipment necessary for the aircraft to act as a SAR on scene command and control platform in conjunction with other air, naval and land assets. All imagery and communication data is recorded and may be forwarded in real time to other assets via internet or on the radio frequencies.

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