The Belgian army is using some of its B-Hunter drones to survey the Antwerp port, the Defence Minister Steven Vandeput revealed on Sunday. He recognised that involving soldiers in the ‘Vigilant Guardian’ interior security operation was “demanding” of the devices.
This operation, which started in January 2015, “really asks a lot of our device”, he told VRT-television’s De Zevende Dag program. The operation involved a maximum of 1,800 people, after the 22nd of March attacks at the Brussels-National airport and the Maelbeek Brussels metro station.
Mr Vandeput (New Flemish Alliance) added he had asked the head of the Defence department to look into whether it was possible to continue this operation “in a sustainable way”, while keeping the balance between the soldier’s work and their private life.
He gave the use of drones for surveying the Antwerp port as an example of efficient use of assets, a strategic installation.
“We are not only putting 140 soldiers on the street, we are doing it in an intelligent way by using drones”, the minister said.
His spokesman explained that the Organ for the Coordination of Threat Analysis (OCAM) had requested the increased surveillance of certain strategic areas.
“If the police ask for support, the Defence department provides it. The use of drones is very efficient for the Antwerp ports. They can survey a large area and provide detailed images”, said spokesman Tony Langone.
According to informed sources, the B-Hunter drones are operating from the former light aviation school in Brasschaat, in the North of Antwerp.