Cayman and the United Kingdom have inked a deal to jointly buy a new helicopter.
On Friday (7 December) the Premier’s Office announced the agreement saying the UK has committed to provide 25 percent of the $11 million price tag for the chopper.
Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin and UK Overseas Territories Minister Lord Tariq Ahmad signed a Memorandum of Understanding in London to solidify the deal.
The new H145 helicopter will be operated by the RCIPS Air Operations Unit. The Premier’s Office said it is hoped that the helicopter can be brought into operational use in mid to late 2019.
Deputy Commissioner Kurt Walton said the new addition to the RCIPS arsenal is welcomed.
“The current helicopter and the Joint Marine Unit (JMU) in terms of the amount of boats we have seized, drugs seized, firearms seized. This will just enhance what we are currently doing, but in addition to enhancing that capability, this will so enhance our search and rescue capability,” Mr. Walton said.
The H145 will provide a larger payload, modern avionics, the ability to serve as an air ambulance, modern detection systems including search and rescue radar and a winch capability.
Mr. Walton said two new tactical flight officers and an additional pilot will also be hired for the air ops team.
The Premier’s Office said one of the current tactical flight officers at the unit will be seconded to Trinidad for three to four years for training as a pilot captain.