NATO is considering sending one of its 17 E-3 AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control) aircraft to join the anti-piracy patrol off Somalia. The E-3 can also scan the ocean, more than a hundred kilometers away, for ships. What the international naval patrol needs is more information about where the pirates are at sea, so that the pirates can be scared away. Currently, the anti-piracy patrol, with a few exceptions, does not attack the pirates, even if the pirates are caught attacking a merchant ship. But the presence of warships, or a military helicopter, usually causes the pirates to abort their attacks. The anti-piracy patrol also refrains from even capturing pirates, because few Western nations have laws for prosecuting piracy. All this would not be a problem if the pirate bases in Somalia were attacked, but no one is willing to do that, and be condemned for causing civilian casualties. So having an AWACS is seen as a useful aid to what the anti-piracy patrol can do; confront and scare away pirates about to board and capture merchant ships.