Bell Helicopter has delivered two Bell 412s to the Sri Lanka Air Force. The aircraft were handed over during a ceremony at Bell’s facility in Piney Flats, Tennessee, at the beginning of this month.
“We’ve had a strong partnership with the Sri Lanka Air Force for more than 40 years,” said Larry D. Roberts, senior vice president for Bell Helicopter’s Commercial Business. “This is a great day for Bell Helicopter as we continue to celebrate this relationship,” he said.
Attending the ceremony and accepting the keys to the new Bell 412s was Air Marshall Abeywickrema representing the Sri Lanka Air Force.
“The Bell 412 is highly reliable and a capable product for our mission needs,” said Sri Lanka Air Force’s Commander Air Marshall HD Abeywickrema. “Dependable Bell products and the customer support and service we’ve received over the years are what we value. We look forward to continuing that relationship in the months and years to come,” he said.
Air Force sources said they need new helicopters due to technical problems with some of the existing helicopters they have now.
The Bell 412 is mainly used for VIP transportation and was initially introduced to the Sri Lanka Air Force in 1985. It currently has eight Bell 412 helicopters in its fleet, in addition to ten Bell 212s and five Bell 206 Jet Rangers, according to the IISS’s The Military Balance 2011. It also has half a dozen Mil Mi-17 transport helicopters and a dozen Mi-24/35s.
In August it was announced that Sri Lanka had bought 14 Mi-171 helicopters.
Sri Lanka, which has a US$50 billion economy, forecast a 6.3 percent increase in defence spending to 215.2 billion rupees (US$1.9 billion) this year, drawing criticism for an increase in defence spending since the end of the war with Tamil Tigers separatists in May 2009.