Following the inferences appeared on some social media and newspapers related to the employment of European Air assets in the Central Mediterranean Region, partially attributable to Sophia, we deem necessary to grant some clarification.
EUNAVFOR MED operation SOPHIA (ENFM) is the European military initiative launched on 2015 and focused on disrupting the trafficking of human beings and the smuggling of migrants off the coast of Libya.
[..] The Operation has other complementary tasks such [..] the conduct of surveillance activities with the aim to gather information on illegal trafficking of crude oil from Libya and the training and monitoring of the Coast Guard and the Libyan Navy.
ENFM air assets [..] carry out patrols operations within the assigned area, collecting information and contributing to the development of the maritime situational awareness in the Central Mediterranean Region. As part of this activity, in regards to the fight against human trafficking and smuggling of migrants, SOPHIA’s Force Headquarters reports any sightings of boats with migrants on board to all the relevant Maritime Rescue Coordination Centres (MRCC) acting in the Central-southern Mediterranean sea and located in Italy, Malta, Tunisia, Libya. The competent MRCC is responsible for the coordination of the Search and Rescue event.
[..] The dissemination of such information to third parties is the sole responsibility of the competent MRCC which will determine the specific needs for intervention in accordance with international standards. ENFM’s air assets do not actively participate to any action performed at sea by the Libyan Coast Guard. Therefore, they cannot be accused of carrying out any refoulement to Libya.
Finally, ENFM’s air assets have embarked detection systems (optical, radar and infrared) that are necessary for their patrol activities. Such air assets are not equipped with any active system which can be used to disturb radio / radar frequencies. Hence, any disturbances on the GPS systems cited in recent media articles, are unrelated to activities carried out by ENFM military aircraft.