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Investing in helicopters in the Salvadoran Air Force-Noticias

El Salvador’s military budget rose 52% in 2020 from $ 145 million in 2019 to $ 220 million (another 75 million). It is believed that much of this surge will be used for the recovery of air cargo, including some Huey-II, as well as for the recovery of as many ship cargo as possible. The truth is, little remains today of an impressive fleet of 85 UH-1H and UH-1Ms that were shipped from the United States in the 1980s and early 1990s.

In early November, El Salvador sent its two UH-1Hs to Guatemala to conduct rescue operations in the face of Hurricane Eta, and a convoy of 54 aid trucks and 60 trucks to San Pedro Sula, Honduras. When we visited Ilopango (1st Brigade Area) months ago, the FAS215 and FAS283 were in major maintenance and reserved the FAS208 and FAS300 on the airline, to which only one UH-1M survivor (FAS228) was added.

Cambridge, an aviation, logistics and training company, has won a $ 5.12 million contract to supply the Salvadoran Air Force (FAS) with UH-1H helicopter engines, parts, technical manuals and support. The contract was concluded under the IDIQ of the Center for the Management and Integration of Acquisitions of the Air Combat Command (ACC) (AMIC) against Narcotics and Global Threats (CN>) with the execution deadline on September 29, 2021 with the possibility of extension for a further three years.

Under this contract, Cambridge will assist U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) in the maintenance and support of the five UH-1H / UH-1M helicopters of the Salvadoran Air Force. The company will provide a UH-1H sales representative certified by the OEM (expert in the field of the T53-L-13B turbo shaft motor) to support the personnel of the 1st FAS Area Brigade with interim and field maintenance. in inspection procedures, testing, troubleshooting, and planned and unscheduled repairs.

When Hurricane Mitch hit the area, the Salvadoran Air Force managed to mobilize up to 25 UH-1Hs in support of their population, and they even expanded their assistance to Honduras by boarding an air support train to Choluteca. These were other times when the fleet of up to 30 UH-1H could have been brought back to Huey-II for about $ 40 million, leaving 15 in service and 15 in reserve. Instead, US $ 40 million was spent in 2001 to purchase five Bell 412EPs for use by the FAS with the FAS250 FAS254 license plates. During the Saca administration, a $ 13 million loan was approved to convert six UH-1H’s into Huey-II’s[1]. Then, in September 2008, the Saca government announced the repowering of 15 helicopters, including three Bell-412s, six UH-1Hs and the presidential helicopters.[2] and the FAS208, 214, 215, 220, 261, 262, 268, 278, 283, 290, 292 and 297 airframes were made and the Huey-II and UH-1-Plus were prepared for restoration, but all came to nothing and in the pockets of some officials. The US was making headway[3] Financing the repair of the FAS208, 215, 283, 292 and 297. The contractors also repaired two UH-1M (FAS 228 and 323) while the FAS 261 would be repaired by the same FAS in 2011.

In February of this year, shortly before the presidency of the right-wing ARENA party was to resign, Gustavo Lpez Davidson proposed that the presidential helicopter with VIP configuration be handed over to the National Civil Police (PNC) for security purposes. Citizen Security. Indeed, the FAS hoped to get this machine back online. Presidential flight FAS001 254 N10418 is one of five Bell 412EPs that arrived in 2001 to reinforce the Air Force (FAS). It was during Antonio Saca’s administration that. I requested the FAS254 and converted it into a VIP model and also fitted it with a Bendix King nasal weather radar. In 2001 the presidential flight had received a Bell 407 (c / n 53508) specifically for its use and was assigned directly to the Presidential House with registration YS-1001N. A Bell 206L-3 Long Ranger III helicopter was purchased in 1991 and served from the Presidency until the Bell 407 arrived in 2001. The Bell 206L-3 will remain part of the fleet of aircraft that serve the exclusive Presidential House. Previously, the FAS001 was a UH-1H that had arrived at the FAS in May 1990 using the FAS300 registration and was conditioned as VIP transport. In 1994 he was assigned the civil registration YS-1002N. Currently, the FAS has two Bell 412’s been operating when the 251 crashed in 2002, six months after delivery, while the 253 suffered the loss of a turbine when the crew failed to follow due process in 2007.

Of the $ 109 million loan requested by CABEI in late 2018, 50% is to be allocated to defense, including an IPO of $ 13 million and a Bell 412 of similar costs[4]. The 2019 defense budget included a $ 1.8 million fund for the recovery of FAS253. In accordance with Resolution No. 01-CD-72A-MDN-2019, Central American Aviation Services, SA de CV (CAAS) was commissioned to repair the FAS253 and deliver it in March / April 2020. This meant shipping the Bi-Turbine package to Canada. When he returned, defects were found in one of the parts so he returned to the manufacturer and the work was delayed. The aim of the FAS is at least to complete the table of the five Bell 412s and to work with another five UH-1H, which will eventually be five Huey-II or similar. (Julio Montes)

Photo: FAS283 and 215 during major maintenance work (J Montes)

Bell FAS250 in Ilopango (J Montes)

UH-1H Housing – Sources for Converting to HUEY-II (J Montes)

Bell FAS252 in Ilopango (J Montes)

FAS300 in Ilopango (J Montes)

FAS208 in Ilopango (J Montes)

[1]. In mid-2005, Deputy Secretary of Defense Ricardo Benjamin Brego indicated that the ships could be purchased in the second-hand market (possibly in terms of cabins), which could have an expected value of $ 2.2 million for each unit that in less than two years the fleet could be changed. EMCFA verified the data for us in November 2005 and stated that the budget for changing several UH-1H to Huey-II had been approved. A diagram by La Prensa Grfica in its September 16, 2005 edition described it as follows: money $ 2.2 million, which will cost each unit of air; 6 helicopters would be renewed.

[2] In 2008, the Salvadoran morning paper El Diario de Hoy compiled the statements from the president: Saca said 15 helicopters will be re-equipped, three of which will be of the Model 412, six more of the UH1H version, and others in addition to the presidential helicopters they are for official missions planned.[

[3] In 2007 it committed to funding the development of six UH-1Hs with new turbines, albeit of the original T53-L-13B type, that were donated by the United States itself. The US Embassy in San Salvador had contacted Helica and DynCorp International to carry out this repair.

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