Jamaica News: The Jamaica Defence Force’s (JDF) aerial and maritime capabilities have been significantly boosted with the acquisition of new surveillance aircraft.
The Beechcraft King Air 350 WR maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) and two Bell 429 helicopters, were commissioned into service during a ceremony on Wednesday (November 14) at the Air Wing Manley Base at the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston.
The units, along with a new Maritime Patrol Aircraft Hangar, form part of the resources for the newly established JDF Maritime Air and Cyber Command.
Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, who delivered the main address at the commissioning, said that the investment in the JDF’s aerial and maritime capabilities reflects the Government’s commitment to securing Jamaica and its resources for present and future generations.
Mr. Holness, who has Portfolio responsibility for the JDF as Minister of Defence, noted that the acquisitions represent “one of the single largest investments that any Government of Jamaica has made in the area of security”.
He noted that security and economic development are inextricably linked and “is the foundation of our plan to develop Jamaica into a place of choice, to live, work, raise your families [and] do business”.
“So, what we are doing here today is ensuring that we make an investment in securing our borders, increasing our domain awareness… not just because it sounds great… but because it will have a practical effect for the man on the street in Jamaica. You will see crime going down in your communities as a result of this investment,” he added.
For his part, Major General Meade, who indicated that the aircraft are the first of several being procured, said that in addition to search and rescue operations and internal security, they will aid in preventing the exploitation of Jamaica’s maritime space for illicit activities.
These, he pointed out, include trafficking illegal guns and drugs as well as illegal fishing.
Major General Meade said the MPA, in particular, will enable the JDF to expand its partnerships with countries across the Caribbean, which share similar security threats and challenges with Jamaica.
“It is only through cooperation with our partners that we can hope to combat the networks of transnational criminal organisations who look to exploit the gaps that result from limited cooperation and information sharing,” he said.
“Together, these activities will culminate in the achievement of our ultimate objective – to protect Jamaica’s national interest and the well-being of our citizens while contributing to regional security,” he added.
The aircraft were acquired through collaborations with American entities Sierra Nevada Corporation, Textron Aviation, and Bell.
Source: JIS News