Tuesday January 8, 2002
Colombia Gets New US Black Hawk Helicopters
TOLEMAIDA MILITARY BASE, Colombian President Andres Pastrana officially received on Tuesday, 16 state-of-the-art Black Hawk helicopters promised by the United States to aid the Andean nation's anti-cocaine offensive. Standing in front a million aircraft hanger, also paid for the by the U.S. government, Pastrana said the ongoing U.S. military aid would be decisive in the battle to wipe out the drug trade (meaning: defeat Colombia's guerrilla war).
Military analysts say Colombia's increasing use of helicopters to quickly transport troops to hot spots has given it an advantage against leftist rebels by radically cutting response time to arriving intelligence data. The United States is pouring more than billion in military aid into Pastrana's government. It is the biggest U.S. military buildup in Latin America since El Salvador in the 1980s.
The U.S. Black Hawk allotments alone are worth 4 million and the aircraft can be modified to launch rockets and fire mortars and can be mounted with machine guns. Including the latest U.S. donations, Colombia now has a fleet of 29 Black Hawk helicopters. Additionally, the United States has already delivered 33 UH-1N troop transport helicopters under Plan Colombia and has promised 25 Huey-II helicopters -- which U.S. Ambassador to Colombia Anne Patterson said on Tuesday would begin arriving later this month.