Answer given by Ms Johansson on behalf of the European Commission
The Commission has requested the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) to provide the elements of the reply to the Honourable Member’s question . According to Frontex, the manufacturer of the airship is the French company A-NSE, the aerostat has been leased as a service, for the duration of one month, with a cost for the whole system of EUR 486 000.
During the period of the trial, the system detected a number of illegal immigration events. The detections performed by the asset were dealt with following the same operational rules applicable to any other technical mean deployed in the framework of Joint Operation Poseidon. In this sense, the command and control of this platform was effected by the Local Coordination Centre in Samos, while the overall coordination of the operation was done from the International Coordination Centre in Piraeus. The Hellenic Coast Guard shared information on incidents with different authorities, including the Turkish coast guard, in accordance with the operational rules applicable to the Joint Operation.
The aim of the maritime surveillance is to prevent and detect illegal cross border activities at EU external borders. A system like the aerostat tested in Samos, provides for an advanced early warning capacity, which could allow for a higher prevention performance and a more effective operational response, including in search and rescue situations.