More Eurocopters for police

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The police have ordered a further two AS350B3 Squirrel single-engined light utility helicopters (LUH) at a cost of some R66 million.

Once delivered, the rotorcraft will take the South African Police Service Air Wing fleet of these helicopters to 16.

The state arm agency Armscor on its website notes the purchase price is R66 184 300. The contract
was awarded last Tuesday.

Police spokesman Senior Superintendent Vishnu Naidoo says the new rotorcraft will replace two elderly AS350s, including one B2 model.

He says the first will be delivered next month and the second in April. Although the helicopters will be deployed during the FIFA soccer World Cup that starts in June, Naidoo was at pains to say the craft were not acquired specifically for the event.

The police have made a substantial investment in technology for the soccer tournament, spending some R660 million on new equipment including six Robinson R44 Raven II helicopters, worth more than R30 million, 10 water cannon, mobile command vehicles, 300 mobile cameras, 54 BMW patrol vehicles,French body armour as well s a R2.7 million bomb disposal robot and bomb disposal suits that cost R400 000 per suit.

According to news reports the police intend deploying 50 000 security personnel to the World Cup, comprising 31 000 full-time police, 10 000 reservists and 9000 military personnel as well as traffic police. Of the 41 000 police, 9000 will be public order troops schooled in crowd management.

In addition to the AS350, the Air Wing operates 13 Eurocopter Messerschmitt-Bolkow-Blohm MBB 105, two Eurocopter Messerschmitt-Bolkow-Blohm-Kawasaki BK117 and two McDonnell Douglas MD369E.



Pic: An Eurocopter A50B3 Squirrel carrying police Special Task Force commandos during Exercise Shield III in March last year. The exercise was part the security forces’ preparations for the World Cup.