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Jul 3, 2023

National Defense Officials Visit Taiwan

The Minister of National Defense and Border Security, along with C.E.O. Dario Tapia and Commandant of the Belize Coast Guard Elton Bennett returned over the weekend from a visit to Taiwan. They were joined by Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance Christopher Coye and a representative from CABEI.  Among the many meetings was with the Ocean Affairs Council in Taiwan, which is the governing body for the Taiwanese Coast Guard. The focus was defense engagement and looked at the range of what was available for Belize in terms of acquisition of supplies and equipment as well as training and specialization in different fields. Commandant Bennett says that there were two areas of interests for the coast guard.


Elton Bennett

Rear Admiral Elton Bennett, Commandant, Belize Coast Guard

“We’re looking at opportunities for ship building and Taiwan offered that to us. So we had the opportunity to look at two ship yards; one in particular that we are very interested in. We had the opportunity to look at what technologies are available and the platform and look at suitability for our missions and so we will be continuing that discussion with that shipyard in Taiwan as a highly likely candidate to construct patrols boats for the Belize Coast Guard in the very near future. The second one, we had the opportunity to look at UAV, unmanned air vehicles, which is something that the Belize Coast Guard is also pursuing. As a matter of fact, we are looking at a very close timeline.  We are looking at by the end of this year; the Belize Coast Guard should have acquired at least two unmanned air vehicles for operational purposes in our marine spaces. And then next year, we are preapproved, as well, funds to purchase two additional UAVs. So, it is a program that starts now so we had the opportunity to look at what’s available in Taiwan and look at the different technology and to see its suitability again for our operational purposes. We have to appreciate that our needs are very different from terrestrial needs in terms of it being marine grade and for maritime surveillance purposes. And so we are very excited about what we saw in Taiwan as well and we will continue those discussions. As a matter of fact, tonight I have a meeting with one of those companies to further those discussions. So very, very productive from a technical perspective, I think it was very productive sessions. I know that the minister had opportunities to speak with his opposite number in Taiwan – some classified, but some that I am sure will be made available to the public – the different engagements that we had.”

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