Police to get new $11 million helicopter

The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service is getting a second helicopter.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister of State for the Overseas Territories, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, and Cayman Islands Premier Alden McLaughlin signed a memorandum of understanding in London Friday, which paves the way for the purchase and operation of the new Airbus H145 helicopter by the RCIPS Air Operations Unit.

The helicopter, which will be used alongside the unit’s existing aircraft, is expected to be in operation by the middle of next year.

According to a press release from the Governor’s Office, the helicopter “will boost Cayman’s capability in the areas of search and rescue, law enforcement and border protection operations. The aircraft will also be used to respond to disasters and other emergency situations in the other UK Caribbean Overseas Territories.”

Under the deal signed in London, the U.K. will contribute 25 percent of the purchase price and running costs of the helicopter from the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund, while the Cayman Islands will pick up the remaining 75 percent.

According to the Governor’s Office, the overall cost of the new aircraft is just over US$11 million, which also includes equipment and a training package.

The addition of the second aircraft will also mean a new pilot and two tactical flight officers will be hired for the Air Operations Unit.

Premier Alden McLaughlin said in a statement, “This helicopter will provide invaluable support to our newly formed Coast Guard agency and the broader national security agencies. 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.”