Police today put on display a new Â£7 million helicopter which will be used to strengthen the fight against crime in Northern Ireland and to make communities safer.
The Eurocopter EC 145 is a larger, more modern version of the existing PSNI helicopter, an EC 135. The new twin-engine aircraft can carry up to 10 people, including crew, and has space for two stretcher casualties in rescue situations.
Using the Callsign Police 45, the new helicopter is the most modern police helicopter operating in the UK and Europe. It has state-of-the-art camera and computer equipment and an air speed of 150mph. It will be deployed alongside the existing PSNI helicopter, Callsign Police 44, which is five years old.
Assistant Chief Constable Drew Harris, head of Crime Operations Department which manages the Air Support Unit and the deployment of the helicopter for Districts and specialist operations, said: â€œThis will substantially enhance our air support capability to help provide a comprehensive policing service. It will assist in meeting the ever increasing demands on policing in every part of Northern Ireland.
â€œThis will include supporting police activities such as investigations, anti-crime operations, traffic management, search and rescue, public order situations, crime reduction initiatives and tackling terrorism.
â€œAt a time when public sector purse strings are tightening, I believe this is an important long-term investment in everyoneâ€™s safety. It will provide police with new opportunities to increase our effectiveness and minimise risks. We want to build on the outstanding record of its stable mate Police 44 which is the busiest police helicopter in the worldâ€.
So far this year the PSNI helicopter has been deployed on 1,058 occasions, including 56 for public disorder and 25 for VIP protection. The vast majority of deployments are in support of everyday police work and successes have included:
- Tracking down 36 suspects;
- Finding 19 missing persons;
- Evacuating 11 casualties;
- Locating 13 vehicles.
ACC Harris said: â€œWe took delivery of Police 45 within the last few weeks and, after training and certification processes were completed, it is already in the air earning its keep. This second helicopter is a significant investment in our capability to respond quickly and dynamically to a range of policing situations with the continuing momentum to drive down crime and make communities safer.â€
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