Posted: Thursday, October 30, 2014. 10:03 pm CST.
Thursday, October 30, 2014. AARON HUMES Reporting: The Ministry of National Security and the Belize Defence Force have dreamed of it for several years and now it is a reality: the people of Belize will now benefit from at least one helicopter to be bought from a leading provider, Bell.
The plan is to buy either two refurbished helicopters for $4.1 million, or a completely new helicopter for $5.68 million, pending final inspection of the refurbished models.
At a press conference today in Belize City Minister of National Security John Saldivar indicated that after several years of fruitless negotiations with traditional security partners such as the U.K., Taiwan, the United States and Canada, Belize was able to commercially source the helicopters through a reputable registered agent for Bell in Miami, Florida.
Prime Minister Dean Barrow says he is satisfied that all is in order except for the final inspection which will take place shortly and there will be at least one purchase.
He said that the monies to buy the equipment will likely come out of the Petrocaribe fund, believing that the proposed purchase fits the planned agenda of the fund for social development.
The estimated costs of operation are about $290,000 for both helicopters and three established pilots in the Air Wing of the BDF will be given further training in flying these helicopters.
$200,000 has been secured in the budget for initial maintenance.
Commander of the Belize Defence Force Brigadier General David Jones said that in the case of the smaller Bell 206 Jet Ranger helicopter which can seat 3, it is ideal for troop extraction and insertion on the western border, eliminating days of walking for soldiers into the area.
The larger 206 Long Ranger can seat 6 and is suited to search and rescue and reconnaissance missions on land and sea.
Either way it saves costs for the national army in this area.
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