Cayman to get $11M Airbus chopper

| 07/12/2018 | 60 Comments
Cayman Islands, Cayman News Service

The new H145 RCIPS Air-Operations Unit helicopter (click to enlarge)

(CNS): The Cayman Islands will be getting a new H145 helicopter from Airbus next year after the Foreign Office Overseas Territories Minister, Lord Ahmad, and Premier Alden McLaughlin signed a memorandum of understanding in London on Friday, paving the way for a shared deal to buy the new machine for the RCIPS Air Operations Unit. Government officials said the UK will cover 25% of the purchase price and running costs, with Cayman providing the balance. The overall cost of the helicopter is just over US$11 million, which includes equipment and a training package. 

The new helicopter, which will be used alongside the AOU’s existing chopper, will boost Cayman’s capability in the areas of search and rescue, law enforcement and border protection operations. It will also be used to respond to disasters and other emergency situations in the other British Overseas Territories in the Caribbean. It is hoped that the helicopter can be brought into operational use in mid to late 2019.

The project will result in more staff in the Air Operations Unit, officials said; two tactical flight officers will be recruited from within the RCIPS and an additional pilot will also join the team. One of the existing tactical flight officers will be seconded to National Helicopters in Trinidad for a three- to four-year period to train and obtain his flying hours to become a pilot captain before returning to Cayman as the first local helicopter pilot with the RCIPS.

The new H145 helicopter is being purchased from Airbus, which also manufactures the H135 already in use by the RCIPS. The current aircraft has become an essential part of Cayman’s law enforcement operations, including the detection and interdiction of illegal shipments of drugs and weapons. It has also proved a life saver in successful search and rescue missions and medevacs from the Sister Islands and has been deployed twice to assist emergency situations in TCI.

Cayman News Service

Premier Alden McLaughlin (left) and Lord Ahmad sigh the MOU regarding the new RCIPS helicopter

However, officials said the state-of-the-art H145 will take the AOU’s capability to another level. The new machine will provide a larger payload, modern avionics, the ability to serve as an air ambulance, plus modern detection systems, including search and rescue radar and a winch capability.

The operation of two helicopters will provide year round 24/7 cover and the ability to assist other territories in the region in times of crisis and disaster.

The premier said he was happy to be moving forward with a second helicopter, as he thanked British officials for their support.

“This helicopter will provide invaluable support to our newly formed coast guard agency and the broader national security agencies,” McLaughlin said. “This addition to our aerial support will also position us as a centre of excellence with capability and capacity in supporting security, law enforcement, and disaster response for our Caribbean Overseas Territories.”

Lord Ahmad said the capability that the new helicopter will bring will save lives.

“The Cayman Islands have shown their determination to come to the aid of fellow territories during times of crisis and this initiative will also improve the safety and security of all the Caribbean Overseas Territories,” he added.

Governor Martyn Roper, who helped move this project along, pointed to the key role the existing helicopter has played. “The ability to provide air cover for RCIPS grounds units, to help rescue people at sea and to transport critically ill patients from the Sister Islands is critical to the safety of everyone,” he said, as he commended the AOU for their work in the wake of the hurricanes last year.

“This has been recognised and the unit will now take on a wider regional role,” Roper added, as he thanked everyone involved.

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Category: Local News

Comments (60)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I see some on ecay for better price than that.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Great. Another helicopter to make circles around me while I’m in my hot tub….

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  3. Anonymous says:

    CIG – Where’s the Business Case?

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    • Gowerment says:

      Wha dat is?

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    • Anonymous says:

      They only use all that when they need the secrecy of the formal procurement process. The rest of the time they get the UK chaps to say the requirements don’t apply and they do whatever they like. Actually they do whatever they like all the time. We now have a “civilised, aristocratic government machine, tempered by occasional general elections”, just like the UK.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Its funny they are spending $11M of the tax payers money when you can buy a brand new never used 2017 Airbus H145 (in white) for $4M. I wonder if I broker the deal and save government $7M they will give me $1M for my trouble….probably not, they love to overspend…they just spent $150,000 of your money to send 3 people to Europe for a week. Wake Up Cayman!

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    • Anonymous says:

      Yeah but we like the yellow one and for just $4mil more it’s well worth it.

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    • Anonymous says:

      If you really can buy one at this reduced price, would you not go to the Premier and help arrange it? I am sure the Government would appreciate it!

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    • Jotnar says:

      You can read, right? So you saw the bit about the $11m being total cost inclusive of equipment and training?

      https://www.bjtonline.com/aircraft/airbus-helicopters-h145

      The above says second hand is $7.3m and new $9.7 so I call bs on your $4 in white. Not that comparison between in white and ready to fly with a winch and specialist law enforcement and rescue package is meaningful anyway. But hey, just make stuff up to suit your agenda – everyone else does.

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    • Tom says:

      On website listed price is $9 million so extra equipment and gear cost money also all training courses. Don’t forget they will have warranty as well.

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  5. Crab Claw says:

    I still believe it would be cheaper for us to get a fleet of retired drones something like the MQ-1 four would be a decent start amount they have at least 10 plus flying hours send two of those up on each side of the island and one between the sister islands and we should have total coverage of our borders, and as for the UK contributing 25% I wouldn’t leave the desk until they offer 100% financing, make them share some of that famous UK-Aid they are wasting in other countries other than in their own backyard.

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    • George Town says:

      Can a drone rescue you stranded at open sea???

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      • Anonymous says:

        No, but it can find you better and faster than a helicopter, and tell the helicopter and boats and ships where you are.

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        • Anonymous says:

          What are you talking about? Everything that a drone has a helicopter can have it too. Plus, it can rescue you at the same time it finds you.

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        • Anonymous says:

          So your argument is that instead of buying a rescue chopper we buy drones that would make it quicker and cheaper to identify where the vessel is so that it can be rescued by the chopper that we didn’t buy because we bought the drones?

          Whilst you chew on that one how is the drone going to casevac someone from the Sister Islands?

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          • Anonymous says:

            Ummm, we have at least two helicopters whenever we need them already. Drones would provide much better border control and surveillance than a new helicopter.

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        • Anonymous says:

          Look forward to your evindence on that one.

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        • Anonymous says:

          Example A: 11 Dec 2018, helicopter locates ‘stranded’ sailboat, fishing boat tows it to shore. The whole ‘rescue swimmers and bosun’s buckets lifting people from sinking vessels’ is an even more unlikely occurrence than the others the helicopters are supposedly for. Drones and boats are a much more practical and effective alternative for real maritime operations around the Cayman Islands. (And existing aeroplanes or helicopters for medevac.)

    • Anonymous says:

      What do you think 25% of purchase and running costs is, if it isn’t aid? The DfID aid budget is for poor countries and disaster recovery. This money will probably come out of the UK’s military aid or industrial guarantee budgets.

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      • Anonymous says:

        We don’t care where it comes from, just pay up and then you can be allowed to use our helicopter. Otherwise we’ll use our overflowing government coffers and buy it outright ourselves and we’ll decide what’s done with it.

  6. OneVoice says:

    The current Police chopper has proven to be a good resource. I am sure this one will too over time. I too was a no believer about the first one, but quickly change my though .

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  7. Anonymous says:

    And queue hot air from MLA …. nephew soon in the air!

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    • Anonymous says:

      ‘one of the exisiting tactical flight officers’. I am guessing he already is in the air and part of an impressive unit. Without any hot air?

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  8. anonymous says:

    $11 million! – CAL are probably spending that each month to lease their new toy and fly it to the Brac to satisfy Ju Ju’s ego.

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  9. Michael says:

    There is no hangar space for it so one often will live on the ramp.

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  10. Anonymous says:

    The helicopter is grossly overpriced. Why didn’t the government shop around?

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  11. Anonymous says:

    Only 25% ?

    That must be a joke.

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    • %% says:

      Take a look at the UK’s finances….25% is very generous…

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    • Anonymous says:

      25% on something that they will not get a single penny of returns on
      I believe the words you are looking for are “thank you”

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      • Anonymous says:

        The RCIPS were sent for a month to rescue and police the other BOTCs on our dime, while the UK military ate cake. The Cayman Islands shouldn’t be doing mother’s cleanup job for her – but if she’s counting on that, she can buy the chopper or give us one from inventory.

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        • Anonymous says:

          Precisely the point 11:22 was making.

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        • Anonymous says:

          To 11:19pm: The UK Military had a Bay-class landing ship with 100 RFA and RN crew, one helicopter, a landing craft and 300 marines, medics and engineers on standby in the region before the hurricanes struck. It was stocked with hundreds of tonnes of vehicles and emergency supplies. They then dispatched two C17 Galaxies, an MRTT passenger transport, two C130 Hercules, two Chinook and two Puma helicopters and over 1000 additional military and law-enforcement personnel and operated an air-bridge between Europe and the Caribbean, in conjunction with the French and Dutch. That was followed up by an Ocean-class LHD, with around 18 helicopters, 4 landing craft and hundreds of tonnes of additional supplies and equipment, along with hundreds of naval and marine personnel. All of this was done at more than 4000 miles distance. The UK also supplied tens of millions of pounds in initial emergency aid and lobbied successfully for a change in OECD rules to allow International Development aid to be supplied to countries that are normally considered “too wealthy” to receive aid, following natural disasters, allowing access to the £14b UK aid budget for re-development.

          The UK, the French and the Dutch Governments are now holding a series of inquiries into whether the response was adequate, what lessons can be learned and how things could be improved in the future. The regional helicopter plan is one result of those deliberations (and wouldn’t have happened if the UK hadn’t come up with the idea and pushed for it to happen).

          Cayman sent one helicopter and eight people 600 miles. A significant effort by a small community. They provided a surveillance and light transport facility that was very welcome in the initial phase. The team involved did very well. Without UK forces logistic support, they would have been greatly hampered in achieving anything, however.

          The follow-up in Cayman – sit there congratulating yourselves on what good boys you were and insulting the people that really put in the vast majority of the hard work (and the money).

  12. Anonymous says:

    Good news, but why not send the Caymanian future pilot to the UK or Europe for training? It may be more relevant, especially from a law enforcement perspective, and is much easier to get to from Cayman.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Think for once about similar weather patterns in the Caribbean Basin and leave hang your prejudices out to dry.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Sorry, I did not realize that Trinidad’s rules governing surveillance, noise pollution, pursuit, use of force, evidence gathering etc. were the same as Cayman, that the Trinidad police work with their air units at internationally recognized and respected highest levels of inter-unit logistics and communication, that allegations corruption within Trinidad’s government agencies are purely the result of prejudice, or that there were no hot days or thunderstorms in Europe. My bad.

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      • Anonymous says:

        If that was as important as you suggest 7:11, then why has Cayman just recruited a UK pilot who trained with the UK Army Air Corps?

        Meteorology is a minor skill that pilots can train in as needed. The main requirement is the ability to operate a helicopter to much higher skill levels, in more marginal conditions than is taught at civilian flight schools. Since the UK military run training courses for non-UK military and police, it would seem logical for Cayman to avail itself of those facilities. Selection for, and completion of, the course, should, of course, be based on ability, not who you are related to.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Good news! Bad news for the drug smugglers. ??

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  14. Anonymous says:

    Over time, I believe this will be money well spent! I imagine it will help with lots of life saving missions, as well as overall law enforcement. Excellent!

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  15. who pays ? says:

    when we assist other territories who pay for the cost of the chopper them or us? CNS u too this?

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  16. Anonymous says:

    Very good news. Thank you!

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  17. Anonymous says:

    For the surplus Gov’t has, they should have bought an Augusta Westland 139. That’s a helo!

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  18. Anonymous says:

    11 Million wow
    That must serve coffee too!. But yes good news.

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  19. Anonymous says:

    Government ballin’ out of control! Got a new port coming, school upgrades, new gym, new roads, new planes and now an $11M chopper Arnold Schwarzenegger would be proud of.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nvIz6dEoQ_Q

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  20. Anonymous says:

    Good news.

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