> our title:

Italian Predators Guard Coastal Approaches

> original title:

Predator Identifies Immigrant Boat

(Source: Italian air force; issued Jan 22, 2014)

(Issued in Italian only; unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com)

On Wednesday, January 22, during an operational sortie in support of Operation Mare Nostrum, a Predator B unmanned aircraft operated by the Italian air force’s Amendola-based 28th Flight Group identified and tracked a small vessel carrying migrants towards the Italian coast, and which had previously been detected by Italian navy assets.

At 12:39 the aircraft’s crew, working in the Exploitation Data Center, and after careful analysis of the video imagery, confirmed that the boat, about 12-14 meters long, was headed toward the Italian coast.

All the available data was immediately transferred to the Air Operations Center (A.O.C.) at Poggio Renatico (Ferrara province) that shared them, in real time, with the navy’s Operational Command which, in turn, assigned the surface ship “Zeffiro” to assist the migrants in transit.

The air force aircraft had been carrying out a surveillance system since about 09:00, and was tasked with monitoring an assigned zone so as to identify small vessels heading to Italy and carrying migrants coming from the African coast.

At 14:08 the Predator B handed the suspect vessel over to the naval ship for rescue and assistance operations, and continued its surveillance mission.