North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is considering deploying an Awacs radar plane to fight pirates in the seas off the coast of Somalia, according to the head of the alliance’s military committee.

Commanders are seeking to back up a five-ship counterpiracy task force with one of the airborne warning and control system surveillance planes, sharing it with allied International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) fighting in Afghanistan.

NATO military committee chairman Admiral Giampaolo Di Paola said that it would be conceivable having a dual use of Awacs being able to perform missions for ISAF and missions for counterpiracy, reports Bloomberg.

The Awacs, known as “eyes in the sky” are modified Boeing 707s topped with a rotating dome housing radar equipment.

NATO’s 17-plane Awacs fleet, managed by crews from 15 countries, is based in Geilenkirchen, Germany.

During the first nine months of 2009 pirates have struck 147 times off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden, up from 63 attacks in 2008, the International Maritime Bureau said.