The AFM conducts a wide range of operations in the maritime domain. These include:
•Protection of Malta's maritime claims such as territorial seas and Fisheries Conservation and Management Zone;
•Surveillance and protection of Malta's maritime borders;
•Suppression of illegal activities at sea such as smuggling and trafficking;
•General maritime law enforcement;
•Maritime Safety missions including Search and Rescue (SAR), general boating safety and provision of safety and security information to commercial shipping;
•Port security and protection of sensitive vessels and infrastructure;
•Support to other Government Agencies;
The resources available to the AFM for the conduct of maritime operations include the patrol vessels and small boats operated by Maritime Squadron, the fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters operated by the Air Wing and the Command, Control and Communications facilities operated from the AFM Operations Centre at Luqa. The latter include the Coast Radio Station, the Coastal Vessel Traffic System and the AFM's Integrated Communications System.
In total, some 500 personnel operate in support of the AFM's maritime missions. Supporting national assets are the two AB212 SAR helicopters operated by the Missione Italiana di Collaborazione nel Campo della Difesa (MICCD) and jointly crewed by AFM and Italian Airforce personnel.
These resources provide the AFM with the ability to identify developing challenges at sea, provide a targeted response and manage the response in an efficient manner.
The resources available to the AFM allow the provision of a variety of capabilities to Government, including;
The conduct of maritime aviation surveillance and rescue missions by both day and night and in most weather conditions;
•The coordination of urgent SAR missions within the Malta SAR Region using national and third-party assets;
•The conduct of routine and ad hoc maritime patrolling duties within a 150NM radius around the Maltese Islands;
•Generating Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) of activities at sea in the approaches to the Maltese Islands as well as farther afield when deemed necessary;
•Supporting the enforcement efforts of agencies such as the Malta Police and Customs Department;
•Providing deployable capabilities in support of international operations;
AFM maritime assets are currently involved or have been involved in a wide variety of operations and exercises, including;
•Continuous presence in national waters;
•National operations overseas including supporting the re-establishment of a Maltese diplomatic presence in Libya;
•International operations locally and overseas including FRONTEX operations in Malta, Spain and Greece, EU operations off the Horn of Africa and the support of international training activities in Libya and Western Africa;
•Regular multi-national exercises including the 'five plus five' Canale Exercise organised bi-laterally between Italy and Malta, as well as Exercise Phoenix Express organized by the US Navy;
In an average year, AFM maritime assets deliver around 500 days of patrol time at sea while aviation assets deliver well in excess of 1000 flight hours in support of maritime operational and training activities.