Four Bell UH-1 helicopters, donated by the United States, arrived in Costa Rica Friday at noon and were on display to the press at the Base 2 area of the Juan Santamaria Airport (SJO) in Alajuela.
They are part of the United States Air Training Program that will after two years of training will be permanently transferred to the Air Surveillance Service (SVA) of the Ministerio de Seguridad Pública.
The helicopters, valued at US$48 million dollars (US$5 million more than when the donation was announced last year during the Solis Administration, will increase the capacity of the SVA to provide air support in emergency response, humanitarian aid, transport of equipment and personnel to more remote areas, preventive patrols and maritime and air interdictions.
For the next two years, the United States will be in charge of the aircraft, that will include training of SVA pilots and maintenance personnel, spare parts maintenance of the equipment, while the SVA will assume the operating costs.
For the training of the SVA staff, a team of 20 aviation experts from the U.S. will remain stationed at the Base 2 until the conclusion of the program.
The main objective of this program is to contribute to the strengthening of operations to combat illegal drug trafficking and criminal aerial and maritime activities.
The helicopters arrived on a United States Air Force C-17 Globemaster III large military transport aircraft.
The UH-1 helicopter has a capacity for 12 passengers and 3 crew. The twin engines can develop a speed of 205 kilometers per hour, they can carry 3.300 kg (7,306 lbs) and a range of 182 nautical miles.