The Guyana Defence Force (GDF) has added a Bell 412EPI helicopter to its air fleet to improve response capabilities, thanks to agreements signed with the United States. The aircraft landed on March 13, 2021, at the Camp Ayanganna military base, in Georgetown, Guyana, with a crew of four officers: three Guyanese and a Bell Ferry pilot, the GDF said on Facebook.
“We have been investing continuously in the training, upgrading, and development of human assets,” Guyanese President Irfaan Ali said during the aircraft delivery ceremony. “With this acquisition comes a new era of training and an upgraded era of development.”
The helicopter was acquired through the U.S. Department of State, as part of a purchase request that the Guyanese government made for four aircraft, two Bell 412EPI and two Bell 429, in addition to complementary equipment, training, and maintenance. The program’s estimated cost is $256 million, the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency said on its website. The U.S. government approved the overseas military sale in October 2020.
“We will be better able to conduct long-range aerial reconnaissance, engage in swifter troop movement and insertion into our far-flung regions,” said Brigadier Godfrey Bess, GDF chief of Staff.
He added that they will be able to carry out medical evacuation missions of inhabitants and troops. “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 [exclusive economic zone],” he said.
With the air vehicle acquisition, authorities hope that maritime surveillance, patrols, and search and rescue missions will improve, as well as the fight against narcotrafficking in the national territory, a March 2 report by the Guyanese government indicated.
The new helicopter is suitable for Guyana because it can operate in “harsh and demanding” environments, such as high temperatures and high-altitude conditions, Lieutenant Colonel Courtney Byrne, GDF Air Corps commanding officer, told the Guyanese news portal Demerara Waves on March 13.
The Bell 412EPI can carry 14 people and has a maximum cruising speed of 230 kilometers per hour, a range of 3.8 hours, and a 2-ton external load hook. The helicopter features technology that includes high-resolution maps, terrain data, and touch controls, Bell says on its website.
“We are very pleased with our strategic partner in the United States,” President Ali said. “And these are all the new relationships that we felt that are essential in building stronger defense architecture. We realize, and we know, that our defense architecture has to be supported by the best diplomacy and the greatest of partnership.”