Friday, April 12, 2024

$65M BDF BOOST

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Barbados is borrowing US$65 million to finance a four-year-old plan to give the Barbados Defence Force (BDF) 11 more boats, possibly three aircraft and a major coastal radar system.The House of Assembly yesterday approved the plan to borrow the money from ING Bank N.V., a member of the Dutch ING Group.Introducing the resolution in the House, Deputy Prime Minister Freundel Stuart said the project dates back to 2006 when the agreement for these loans was signed.The project includes an advanced coastal radar system, with four fixed radars strategically located to provide a 360-degree radar coverage around Barbados, he reported.“Those radars are installed strategically across Barbados. There is one at Ragged Point in the eastern part of the country and (others in different) parts of Barbados,” he added.That US$15.5 million system was supplied by ELTA Systems Ltd., a subsidiary of Israel Aerospace Industries and one of Israel’s leading defence electronics companies.Patrol vessels “The second component of the system was a marine module which included three ten-metre rigid-hull inflatable boats, two 12-metre inshore patrol vessels, three 42-metre offshore patrol vessels and three 7.40 metre rigid-hull inflatable boats,” Stuart disclosed.“These vessels, all together, account for a cost of US$38.879 million.”The third element of the project was “an aerial component which was supposed to consist of a rotary wing aircraft and the possible acquisition of two helicopters,” according to Stuart.He said that upgrading Barbados’ security systems was important, given the high level of drug trafficking in the region.Barbados was “strategically located” between countries in the south that produced drugs and those in the north, including the United States, that consume these drugs, he told Members of Parliament.According to Stuart, the drug trade had put Barbados and other small, poor countries at greater risks.They were “hard put to it to properly equip themselves to match the appliances and the equipment owned by these drug lords and these drug traffickers”, he pointed out. (TY)

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