The Government is making moves to replenish its fleet of aircraft, with plans on the table to buy a number of refurbished, fixed-wing aircraft to be used by the Guyana Defence Force (GDF).During a post-Cabinet press briefing, Minister of State Joseph Harmon revealed that Government is looking to purchase two skyvans. In addition, the State is also looking to acquire two Islander aircraft.When asked, Harmon noted they would serve a variety of functions. According to the Minister, these range from the aircraft performing search and rescue operations to delivering items to border troops.“They are fixed-wing aircraft. They are two Skyvans and two Islanders. These aircrafts actually serve Guyana; serve the conditions under which we have to fly in Guyana, extremely well. The GDF have a competency in both the Islander and the Skyvan because they operated these machines for many, many years.”“In fact, we still have one of the Islanders flying. But we want to ensure that we can provide safe aircraft for our soldiers. In some cases where we have to do search and rescue, when we have to deliver items to our borders troops that we are in a position to do so and do so efficiently.”It was revealed that the GDF had requested some $484.2 million for these aircraft when Government tabled supplementary estimates for current and capital expenditure. Over $200 million from its 2018 capital programme was supposed to meet initial payments.Additional sums are expected to be used to close the deals. Their request came under the Agency head of Defence and Security Support. Authorities have been frank that Guyana’s aviation capacity is in need of a boost.Aviation sectorAt a press conference last year, Director General of the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), Egbert Field, had lamented the deterioration of the Defence Force’s helicopters, noting that the situation has not been rectified for years.“An important element of search and rescue which is a helicopter in the event of a crash, I don’t know why the GDF equipment was allowed to deteriorate to the point where they do not have a serviceable helicopter for search and rescue, which is the Bell 412 helicopter,” he had said.In a letter to the media, one operator had highlighted some of the deficiencies in the sector. Roraima Airways CEO, Captain Gerry Gouveia had zeroed in on problems such as the lack of effective search-and-rescue operations.In recommendations accompanying his criticisms, Gouveia had urged the authorities to boost Guyana’s national rescue capability by acquiring an appropriate/suitable helicopter to execute timely and safe extractions from the jungle if the need arises.It is understood that besides one Bell helicopter that was out of commission, the GDF air corps boasts a smaller Bell 206. It also has two Skyvan 8R-GRR models, a Cessna and a Harbin aircraft.SecurityBesides search and rescue, there is also a security element. In 2017, there were back-to-back discoveries of illegal aircraft and airstrips in Guyana’s hinterland regions. This had prompted Government to announce it was formulating a National Border Security Plan.Besides the use of satellite imagery, high-tech aircraft field sensors, and an integrated network of spies to address national security issues affecting Guyana, the general objective was to increase aerial capacity.Last year, a twin-engine Beechcraft aircraft was discovered in Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo). It was registered to Banco Brandesco –one of Brazil’s largest banks. No trace of narcotics was found on the plane, but identification cards of Venezuelan and Brazilian nationals were discovered on board. An illegal airstrip was also unearthed in Rupununi, Region Nine by members of the Guyana Defence Force on August 5, 2017.
Paddy Harte and his wife at last night’s launch.Paddy Harte launched his 2016 election campaign in his hometown of Letterkenny last night.There was a packed house in Gallagher’s Hotel, with friends, family & supporters gathered in the heart of Letterkenny’s Main Street to support Paddy and wish him well on his election campaign.The evening kicked off with the well known Inishowen man Willie McCarter introducing Paddy. “Paddy Harte has been working in the private sector for a long number of years and has delivered so many projects, too many to name, for communities, organisations and people all across Donegal and I am delighted to be standing here and thrilled that he now has the chance to continue his tremendous work at Government level. I wish him and his family every success with the campaign.” said Willie.Paddy was encouraged by the support he received at his launch and welcomed everyone for coming along to support him.Some of the large crowd at last night’s campaign launch.In a heartfelt speech he said “I am proud to be from Donegal. I believe in my home county and if we all believe in each other and take risks with each other, thats what will help our county succeed. My own sense of belief in the people of Donegal, I believe will help get me elected.“Donegal for us all, is not just a great place to live but a great place to do business, go to school, take part in sport and have fun. I am asking you all to let’s have a go at this journey and together we can take Donegal to another level. I am honoured to be standing here and to be asking you to elect me to represent you and I will work as hard as I have been for the past many years to deliver what is needed for our county.” Amongst the supporters were well known local sporting hero Rory Kavanagh & Donegal’s well known singer & song writer, Mickey Joe Harte who took to the stage when the speeches were over to sing a song that was commissioned for the very successful Gathering initiative in Ireland in 2013, “ Come Gather All”, a very apt song for the occasion.Paddy Harte with his singer cousin Mickey Harte.ELECTION 2016: HARTE OFFICIALLY LAUNCHES HIS CAMPAIGN IN LETTERKENNY was last modified: February 6th, 2016 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)