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Apr 27, 2016

B.D.F. Helicopters Launched and Test Flown at Price Barracks

After weeks of assembling and training of pilots, two helicopters were handed over to the B.D.F. today by the Government of Taiwan. The choppers will be used for evacuation and aerial reconnaissance. At the handing over today, both the helicopters were received by the Minister of National Security, which was followed by a flyover of Price Barracks. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

This morning at Price Barracks in Ladyville, National Security Minister John Saldivar and a host of other invited guests, including Taiwanese Ambassador Benjamin Ho, were on hand for the official handing over of a pair of helicopters.  The generous donation from the Government of Taiwan comes at a critical time when the Belize Defense Force needs all the support it can get to bolster its aerial capabilities.

 

David Jones

Brig. Gen. David Jones, Commander, B.D.F.

“It’s going to be a challenge to keep it operational because it’s pretty expensive to have these things in the air.  Fortunately, we have the spare parts that will be needed to do changing for these helicopters, at least for the next two, perhaps three years, the parts that are needed to be changed regularly.  And the ones that are long-term, we got those parts already.  So parts won’t be an issue for the short-term.  In the long-term it’s going to be an issue but apart from the resources that we intend to get from the Government of Belize, we’re also going to work with our close partners, the U.S. and the other militaries that work with us to assist us in maintaining these helicopters because I know it’s going to be a challenge for the government.”

 

The pair of Hueys was assembled locally by a team of seventeen Taiwanese airmen who traveled to Belize to put the components together, as well as train the pilots of the aircrafts.

 

Benjamin Ho

Ambassador Benjamin Ho, Taiwan’s Ambassador to Belize

“The people and Government of Taiwan are very grateful to what Belize has done for us. So when Belize is in need, and that need can be addressed within Taiwan’s capability, Taiwan certainly will be ready to help. I reported this request to my government and my government gave me an answer immediately. Instead of one, my government decided to give Belize two UH1H helicopters to address the needs of Belize. The helicopters are for implementing disaster relief, helping to tract trafficking and curbing human trafficking.”

 

Minister of National Security John Saldivar also outlined the many uses of the pair of helicopters.

 

John Saldivar

John Saldivar, Minister of National Security

“Let me say that these aircrafts will provide the country with the strategic capability of movement twenty-four hours a day. We will no longer have to rely on others to assist us in aerial reconnaissance. It is timely that as the hurricane season approaches us, we are receiving these helicopters. They will come in handy because they will give us the opportunity to see from overhead those areas prone to damage and to flooding. I want to reiterate that these helicopters will not only serve for the insertion and extraction of our soldiers along remote areas of our country, but they will afford us a lay of the land that we have never seen it before. They will serve as monitors for illegal activities taking place along the length and breadth of our country, including drug cultivation, criminal movements, illegal incursions and the pillaging of our natural resources.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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