Three U.S. military helicopters occupied Owen Roberts International Airport Thursday morning, touching down en route to their Honduras home base.
The aircraft arrived “at 11:14 a.m., repositioning themselves back to Honduras,” according to Airport Operations Manager Rob Harris.
Accompanied by 35 servicemen, the aircraft left the same afternoon for the Central American country’s Palmerola – also called Soto Cana – Air Base, shared with the Honduran Air Force Academy.
The base opened in 1981 and houses between 500 and 600 U.S. troops. It is chiefly used for regional counter-narcotics operations, weather forecasting, fire protection and other humanitarian missions.
The American Joint Task Force Bravo comprises four groups: a military hospital, army forces, “joint security” and the 18-aircraft first battalion-228th Aviation Regiment.
Part of that fleet are the CH-53 “heavy-lift” helicopters, manufactured in Stratford, Connecticut, by Sikorsky Aircraft.
Originally developed by the U.S. Marine Corps for service in Vietnam, the aircraft initially appeared in January 1967, used chiefly to recover other downed aircraft.
Aside from the U.S. Marine Corps, the CH-53 is also used by the German Army, and the Israeli and Mexican air forces.
On Oct. 13, Owen Roberts hosted an initial visit by six U.S. aircraft – three UH-60 Black Hawk and two CH-47 Chinook helicopters and a U.S. Coast Guard C-130 Hercules transport plane, also moving to Honduras from the U.S. base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
“These guys are not overnighting,” Mr. Harris said Thursday. “It’s a gas-and-go stop.”