Frontex has deployed the Frontex surveillance aircraft (FSA) to support France and Belgium in patrolling their coastline. The agency helps the national authorities detect unauthorised border crossings towards the United Kingdom, dismantle criminal activities such as migrants smuggling, prevent people from putting lives at risk as well as support in Search and Rescue activities.
The aircraft is equipped with a wide range of surveillance sensors, such as the maritime patrol radar and a thermal camera. Thanks to its communication equipment, the plane can stream live video and other data directly to Frontex Situation Centre where dedicated experts monitor the situation at the borders round the clock.
If requested by the national authorities, the aircraft and its crew members have the necessary equipment and training to get involved in search and rescue operations by providing technical and operational assistance.
The operation on the coastline started in December 2021 to prevent the rising number of sea crossings. This route has experienced a high number of illegal crossings.