Russia has asked France to allow the deployment of two Ilyushin Il-38 naval reconnaissance planes at a French base in Djibouti to facilitate its anti-piracy missions in the Gulf of Aden, Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said on Wednesday.
“We have asked France to host two reconnaissance planes at its air base in Djibouti in addition to three French planes deployed there,” Serdyukov said after a meeting of the Russian-French Security Cooperation Council in Paris.
The Il-38 May is a Soviet-era maritime patrol aircraft still in service with the Russian Navy.
The plane can fly at a maximum speed of 650 km/h. It has a range of 9,500 km and service ceiling of 10,000 meters.
Russian warships have successfully escorted more than 130 commercial vessels from various countries through pirate-infested waters off the Somali coast since 2008, when Russia joined the international anti-piracy mission in the region.
Task forces from the Russian Navy, usually led by Udaloy class destroyers, operate in the area on a rotating basis.
However, the Russian military believes that the deployment of reconnaissance planes in the region would significantly improve the effectiveness of its anti-piracy missions.
France maintains its largest foreign military base in its former colony located at the juncture of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. The Djibouti base hosts several thousand French military personnel, as well as a number of military aircraft.