LONDON – The African nation of Zimbabwe is planning to increase its law enforcement capabilities with the procurement of four police helicopters.
The country’s Finance and Economic Development minister, Professor Mthuli Ncube, addressed parliament with plans to acquire the helicopters, citing the well-being of Zimbabwe’s police force is essential.
He said the acquisition of the four brand-new helicopters will undoubtedly boost their morale and mission capabilities.
The minister furthered that, the nation is equipped and is financially prepared for the purchase of such equipment, stating that: “We have sourced US$60 million for purposes of purchasing cars, as well as motorcycles for the police, including four helicopters.”
It is not just helicopters the police forces are buying but other assets as well. The minister also reiterated that the programme for procurement is ongoing for new police vehicles, but as of now, they are still unsure of the types of helicopters they will procure.
Cards are on the table
For those who have been following the procurement of law enforcement helicopters worldwide, a handful of police helicopters have been acquired recently.
This includes, the Polish government adding to more S-70i rotorcraft that were ordered for the National Police not long ago, while MD Helicopters won two contracts to supply MD530Fs for the Atlanta police force, while at the same time, upgrading its existing MD Helicopter.
Most, if not all helicopter OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacture), are well equipped to be geared towards a specific mission, be it law enforcement, VIP, utility, medical evacuation, fire fighting and large-scale agriculture.
Most Affordable: Robinson R66
The Robinson R66 Police Helicopter is one of the most affordable purposed-built rotorcraft out there. To put into perspective, one unit of the R66 is at $2,750,500, with 900 units manufactured since 2009, which makes the machine a proven helicopter.
One can buy 7 to 8 R66 Turbine Helicopters, with dedicated police equipment for the price of one Agusta Westland 139 helicopter.
The Most Agile: MD530F
MD Helicopters are known as the ‘sports cars of helicopters’. Their design, having a short tail boom and rather long rotor blades gives an extra performance boost to the helicopter itself.
It is known for its capability to conduct fast and low approaches which is ideal for tactical movements in constrained areas.
The MD530Fs are used in several police departments across the United States, such as Atlanta Police Department, Las Vegas Police Department and the Virginia Beach Police.
Our Best Guess
While our ‘take’ may be completely wrong, we believe that the Zimbabwean government could opt for one or the other. The Robinson may be a great choice for a country with a rather limited budget but it can carry out all the crucial missions.
MD Helicopters on the other hand offer better performance but at a slightly steeper price. In fact, they might opt for the traditional Eurocopter, AIRBUS A365 N3, Bell 407, Bell 429s or the Agusta Westland 139 after all.
Source: Aviation Source