Last Updated on Monday, 26 June 2023, 9:29 by Denis Chabrol
The Guyana Defence Force’s (GDF) Coast Guard and Air Corps are undergoing major upgrades as part of an integrated approach to counter illegal activities, patrol the country’s borders and move troops and equipment, a well-placed source said Monday.
The latest addition is the Beechcraft King Air 350, which was seized in 2017, and fully-refurbished at a cost of US$2 million in the United States (US). The source said refurbishment of the plane was a cost-effective decision as all of the major components were now zero-timed and the price of a new aircraft of that type is about US$7 million.
Other industry sources said the actual cost of refurbishing the plane was US$7 million and the cost of a new plane is US$9 million.
“The plane right now is like a brand new plane,” the official said on condition of anonymity. Four Guyanese pilots, according to the official, have been trained to fly the Beechcraft.
That plane returned to Guyana last week and, according to well-placed sources, would provide quick-response and full aerial patrol of Guyana’s 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone and other border areas.
The GDF at the weekend confirmed that King Air 350 “was ferried to the United States on August 6, 2021 to undergo a complete refurbishment” and the “the aircraft will be officially commissioned in early July.” The plane, which had had Brazilian registration marking PR-IMG, is now registered locally as 8R-GPW.
While the Bell 412EPI helicopter has a maximum speed of 124 knots and could rescue persons, the source said the Beechcraft , with a speed of 230 knots, is better for quick response and search. “Planes like this are ideal to do border patrols and marine search