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GDF acquires Bell 412 EPI helicopter, President says assets for Coast Guards onstream

The Guyana Defence Force (GDF) on Saturday officially added a Bell 412 EPI helicopter to its Air Corps while President and Commander-in-Chief Dr. Irfaan Ali said preliminary investigations will soon commence to acquire assets for the Coast Guards. At a simple ceremony attended by at the GDF Sports Ground, at Base Camp Ayanganna, the aircraft was given a traditional water cannon salute.

The Commander-in-Chief said the acquisition of this aircraft is a symbol of hope for the nation, in the face of aggression by our Guyana’s western neighbour.

“I thank the Bell and the GDF teams for safely bringing home this asset,” he said.

Dr. Ali added that “this asset signals a new era of training, upgraded areas of development, new potential and new capacity (for the GDF),” as he declared his confidence in the officers and Ranks of the GDF to use and maintain the aircraft.

As the country reaps benefits from its oil rich blocks offshore Guyana, the president also emphasised that with lots more economic assets to protect, a larger economy and sophisticated criminal activities, there is need for modern architecture to handle it all. He said that stronger defence architecture bolstered by the best diplomacy and great partnerships will redound to Guyana’s benefit.

The president also revealed that a team is soon to leave to engage in preliminary investigations for the acquisition of assets for the GDF Coast Guard.

Chief of Staff Brigadier Godfrey Bess said that Saturday’s event is an important moment that will result in enhanced delivery of service to the nation, particularly as it relates to air security services.

“Operationally we will be better able to conduct long-range aerial reconnaissance, engage in swifter troop movement and insertion into our far-flung regions, perform Casevac/Medevac, Search and Rescue missions and training. In terms of national security, this is a significant tool to enhance the effectiveness if Internal Security and Joint/Inter-Agency operations.

“It will also allow us to have a substantial presence in assisting with the surveillance and security of Offshore operations of the oil majors and operators in our fisheries zones in the EEZ. This aircraft is a national asset, and considerations for its use and can be included in the planning and execution phases in developmental programmes and projects,” he added.

The Bell 412 EPI helicopter was brought to Guyana from the USA by a crew which consisted of Lieutenant Colonels, Courtney Byrne, Anson Weekes, and Michael Charles; Civilian Terrence Holder and Bell Ferry Pilot, Allen Niesen.

The Bell 412 EPI helicopter can transport up to 14 persons, has a maximum cruise speed of 124 knots or 230 km/h, a range of 357 nautical miles, and maximum endurance of 3.8 hours. It also has a cargo hook capacity of 4,500 lbs/2,041 kg. The craft’s flight deck features modern flight tech which includes high resolution maps, terrain data and touch controls.