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Guyana yet to decide on helicopter purchases from the United States

Last Updated on Wednesday, 4 November 2020, 15:19 by Denis Chabrol

GROUNDED: The un-serviceable Bell 412 helicopter at the Air Corps headquarters, Timehri.

The Guyana government is yet to decide on whether it would purchase all of the four helicopters that the United States (US) has approved to be sold to this oil-rich South American nation, Aviation Minister Juan Edghill said Wednesday.

An American embassy spokeswoman has said the then A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) had expressed an interest in purchasing the two Bell 412EPi and two Bell 429 helicopters

Although the Defense Department’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), which oversees Foreign Military Sale (FMS) program, delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale on Oct. 30, Mr. Edghill on Wednesday said there was no money in the 2020 National Budget to buy the choppers.

The Aviation Minister said any purchase would have to await the 2021 budget and further consideration by the Guyana government. “There is nothing in the 2020 budget to facilitate that acquisition at this time so look out for the next few months when the 2020 comes out. You’ll hear something if we are going with that and how many we are buying at the time, if all four at the same time,” he said.

The Department of Defence  approved the sale of  the four helicopters to Guyana, with future acquisition options of up to US$256 million.

The Bell 429 GlobalRanger is a light, twin-engine helicopter developed by Bell Helicopter and Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI). The helicopter is capable of single-pilot IFR and Runway Category A operations.

Bell 412EPi is latest variant of the Bell 412 helicopter and an upgrade of the 412EP (Enhanced Performance). The helicopter is equipped with an electronic (Digital) engine control for a PT6T-9 engine upgrade and a glass cockpit display system similar to the Bell 429.

The Government of Guyana has requested to buy two Bell 412EPi Light Utility Helicopters with customer-unique modifications; two Bell 429 Light Utility Helicopters with customer-unique modifications; two WESCAM MX-10 cameras; mission equipment; contractor-provided pilot and maintainer training; particular ground support equipment; spares; publications; integrated product support; technical assistance; transportation; Repair and Return; and other related elements of logistics and program support.

The Government of Guyana has requested to buy two Bell 412EPi Light Utility Helicopters with customer-unique modifications; two Bell 429 Light Utility Helicopters with customer-unique modifications; two WESCAM MX-10 cameras; mission equipment; contractor-provided pilot and maintainer training; particular ground support equipment; spares; publications; integrated product support; technical assistance; transportation; Repair and Return; and other related elements of logistics and program support.

The principal contractor will be Bell Helicopter Textron Incorporated (BHTI), Piney Flats, TN.

According to a statement released by DSCA, “this proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve security of Guyana, which is expected to grow to be an important force for political stability and economic progress in South America”.

“The proposed sale of the Bell 412EPi and 429 helicopters will improve Guyana’s capability to meet current and future threats. Guyana will use the enhanced capability to strengthen its homeland defense; conduct maritime surveillance, patrol, and interdiction; counter narcotic trafficking and transnational criminal organizations; deter regional threats; and support coalition partners overseas. Guyana will have no difficulty absorbing this equipment into its armed forces”, the statement said.

“The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region”, the statement added.