June 27, 2019 (Google Translation) – From 17 to 21 June 2019, the Astrolabe polar patrol boat embarked a dozen people from the French Southern and Antarctic Lands (TAAF), including three experts from the General Directorate of Civil Aviation (DGAC) and a squadron helicopter Squirrel to drive an assessment mission of the bird hazard on this islet of one square kilometer.
The challenge was to assess the risk of setting up an aircraft or a helicopter, often the only way to reach Tromelin, to supply the island and to take over, every two to four months, the three personnel who are there. deployed. For 10 years, following a rat eradication campaign, the island’s bird population has gradually recovered until reaching a level in 2017 that is incompatible with the reception of the CASA military aircraft from the air detachment 181 ( Reunion) until now in charge of conducting relief operations.
The island has an exceptional birdlife that must be preserved. The development of a nesting site and shelters of many species in such a small area has made refueling operations and the conduct of relays difficult. This mission had to provide answers to these issues.
In order to test new vectors, the TAAF asked General de Vidaud, commander of the FAZSOI, the L’Astrolabe competition. This ship has a helicopter platform and the crew is used to working with a civilian squirrel detachment in Antarctica.
Finally, the bird population of the moment will not have disrupted the movements of the helicopter, which safely carried out several depositions of personnel and equipment. The DGAC has been able to test several scaring techniques – ultrasound, laser technology or even a drone – and will produce a report that will benefit both the FAZSOI and the TAAF in deciding whether or not to resume air transport.
The 1,700 soldiers deployed to the FAZSOI guarantee the protection of the national territory and animate regional cooperation from Reunion and Mayotte. FAZSOI is the main focus of the Indian Ocean theater to fight against new threats such as piracy or illegal immigration, to monitor the exclusive economic zones (EEZ) associated with all the islands in the zone responsibility and maintain a regional capacity for rapid intervention.