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Aircraft upgrade

Drug pushers and other criminals already on the run from law enforcers should find their lives more miserable in the coming months.

That, Barbados TODAY learnt, was the expected result of a $16.5 million United States-sponsored overhaul of two planes owned and operated by the Barbados-based Regional Security System.

Sources pointed out that it was November 2011 that the US government and RSS officials signed an agreement to enable the Americans to provide the regional security agency with $20 million.

Some of that funding will now be used to hire a contractor to overhaul and rebuild the two C-26 metroliners the RSS uses for surveillance, civil defence operations, logistics, troop transport, equipment that is also capable of search and rescue operations.

These planes, along with related surveillance equipment were donated by the US between 1999 and 2001.

The source said with the work on the planes scheduled to take six to eight months beginning this year, officials already had plans to place to ensure the RSS “remained fully” operational, plans which could be not be disclosed because of their “highly sensitive content”.

The overall US support and the planned plane improvements are part of “an ongoing requirement to support counter narcotics programs, infrastructure, and capabilities in the Caribbean Basin that are focused on the detection, identification, and disruption of narco-terrorist activities and organisations”, led by the US State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.

The RSS aircraft upgrade was expected to “result in both airframes standardised with the same aircraft flight systems and mission systems”.

Work will also include the installation of “two new pieces of equipment” needed for the RSS to work with law enforcement agencies in the Eastern Caribbean.

Work will largely be made up of an aircraft condition inspection, airframe stripping and painting, performance of required maintenance and inspections, upgrade or replacement of aircraft mission systems, overhaul of engines, overhaul of propellers, and acquisition of spares.

It was also pointed out that while the work done would be to manufacturer and Federal Aviation Administration specifications and standards FAA certification was not a requirement. (SC)

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