In its effort to combat maritime threats and conduct counternarcotic operations, the United States continues to donate the equipment necessary to its partner nations in Central America and the Caribbean to carry out these missions.
On August 6, 2020, U.S. Southern Command, through the Foreign Military Financing program, facilitated the donation of a new Near Coastal Patrol Vessel (NCPV) to the Dominican Republic, which commissioned the boat as patrol vessel Betelgeuse.
“The donation of the coastal patrol vessel Betelgeuse is part of a broader effort to develop a shared capacity with the Dominican Navy to carry out maritime security and interdiction operations,” said U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic Robin Bernstein during a donation ceremony.
These vessels can accommodate a wide range of mission profiles including search and rescue, border patrol, police and customs duties, and counternarcotics operations.
The Dominican Navy is expected to use the NCPV for maritime security operations, including counter drug trafficking and other transnational crimes. Other countries scheduled to receive NCPVs are Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Panama. These deliveries are tentatively scheduled between January and October 2021.
Aside from maritime operations with its partner nations, the United States is also assisting them with aircraft missions as well. The Dominican Republic sent their TECNAM aircraft to the United States to have it outfitted with intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities. The Dominican government first purchased the plane in 2015 to support the Navy’s counter drug and counter transnational organized crime operations. This aircraft is scheduled to be delivered by the end of November.
The United States is also retrofitting a new Cessna Gran Caravan for the government of Costa Rica that was purchased using both U.S. and Costa Rican funds. This aircraft is designed for multi-mission passenger/lift/cargo operations and aeromedical evacuations. The Cessna is expected to be delivered by the end of 2020.