The Andrew Holness-led administration in Jamaica is taking steps to improve the country’s border security.
On Wednesday, National Security Minister Robert Montague announced that the government is spending US$11 billion to among other things obtain six additional helicopters and four aircraft for the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF).
The helicopters, which come with five year’s supply of spare parts and maintenance service, are being acquired at a cost of US$47.4 million.
Current fleet nearly 20-years old
In a release on Wednesday, Montague said the current JDF helicopter fleet is nearly 20 years old noting that industry standards recommend replacement at between seven and 10 years.
He says a surveillance plane has also been purchased at a cost of US$16.9 million and that is now being outfitted with a suite of equipment.
The National Security Minister says the surveillance plane will be commissioned into service later this year.
Last year, two ships were acquired at a cost of US$26.4 million for the JDF Coast Guard.
Several guns and ammunition seized
He notes that over 850 illegal guns and nearly 22,000 rounds of ammunition were seized by the security forces last year. He also said the country’s 145 illegal points of entry offer a gateway for guns, ammunition as well as un-customed goods to enter the island. Montague says the money being spent on border security is part of the government’s five-pillar crime reduction strategy.