Answers needed on helicopters

Newsday Editorial
August 13, 2009 –

HelicopterThe first deal under consideration began back in November 2005. Prime Minister Patrick Manning, on a visit to Israel, announced that he had met with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and had discussed the issue of crime with his host. Then, in a television interview, Mr Manning stated that the talks with the Israelis might include the acquisition of four armed helicopters as well as patrol boats. He said that the Israeli Air Force used armed helicopters and he had initiated discussion to “effect a transfer”.

In early January 2006, Newsday published a letter from Garvin Nicholas, Head of the Movement for National Development Party, claiming that Cabinet had approved the purchase of combat helicopters from Israel, for National Security purposes. In response to questions from the media immediately following Mr Nicholas’ letter, both National Security Minister Martin Joseph and Public Administration Minister Lenny Saith refused to comment on the issue. Both made comments to the effect that discussions at Cabinet meetings were “secret”.

Strangely, following the Cabinet meeting in question, no post-Cabinet media briefing was held. The local media was left to speculate on the issue, and our research identified the types of “armed” helicopters which were being used by the Israeli Air Force. No one would state whether the helicopters had been discussed, or if any decision had been taken. Significantly, no one denied that the matter had been before cabinet.

Then on January 5 2006, the Prime Minister denied that “attack helicopters” were being considered. He went on to say that Government would buy four “armed helicopters”, which Manning also referred to as “civilian ones” and would cost about one-tenth of the US$60 million that the Apache AH-64 “attack” units would cost. These “armed” as opposed to “attack” helicopters would be used by the police for crime fighting, and “against boats which travel at high speed and are difficult to reach at the surface”.

Then the matter, like so many Government plans and initiatives, simply faded into oblivion.

Until last week! That is when it was learned, and not through any Cabinet or Government release, that a contract had been signed with an Anglo-Italian firm, Augusta-Westland, to supply four special purpose helicopters. And where did this news come from? It came as a public relations announcement from Augusta-Westland which now held the contract to supply Trinidad and Tobago with these helicopters.

This paper, in our editorial on Saturday, August 8, raised questions about the tendering procedure for the Augusta-Westland helicopters, and other announced procurements. The four Italian helicopters, albeit with a training and service input, will cost in excess of $2 Billion. Given that the Israeli “civilian ones” were going to cost about US$ 6 Million each, some explanation is now due. The four Israeli units would have cost the taxpayer $ 151 Million. The four Augusta units are going to cost $2.1 Billion! Something is very wrong here. The Prime Minister must explain what happened to the deal he was pursuing in January 2006 for four helicopters which he declared then were eminently suited to the task at hand. What has changed since then? Did the Israelis ever tender, and what ever happened to their tender?

And up to now, the only official announcement about the Italian contract has come from the supplier. Are we, the purchasers, not entitled to some explanation?,105429.html

Trinidad and Tobago News Blog – URL for this article:

5 thoughts on “Answers needed on helicopters”

  1. Browne: Helicopters do not cost $2b

    Peter D Neptune
    Published: 14 Aug 2009

    Trade Minister Mariano Browne lashed out at what he called inaccurate reporting by another daily newspaper, which criticised the high investment the Government was making in the four helicopters to patrol the nation’s borders and to support drug interdiction.

    Browne, who sat on the committee with oversight in the procurement process for the helicopters, said contrary to the statements made in the newspaper editorial, the Government pursued a rigorous selection and tendering process that included input and advice from a US consultant with experience in procuring similar equipment for the US and other governments.

    Apart from Browne who represented the Ministry of Finance, the procurement committee comprised other government officials, including the Attorney General, the National Security Minister and top representatives from the armed forces. He said the report was inaccurate in many ways in that the successful bidder for the contract was the US-based company Augusta-Westland, and not an Italian supplier. “The helicopters will not cost $2.1 billion, but will actually cost US$93.5 million or TT$589 million, less than quarter of the figure quoted in the editorial,” Browne said.
    Full Article :

  2. News Politics Islanders split as Whitehall takes over Turks and Caicos.

    Bitter divisions among politicians and ordinary residents living in the Turks & Caicos Islands have emerged following the UK government’s decision to suspend its parliament amid allegations of widespread corruption The TCI have had their own government since 1976, and have been largely independent of Britain since the 1960s, making Westminster’s decision to assert power over the islands al the more controversial The island’s premier.

    Ok Neal, I know they are snooping at Trinicenter to gauge our responses.

  3. Sorry Roger, I took so long , but there was so much distracting nonsense to deal with. I could not help but be drawn to this recent News Day article that gave us a peek into the past. Ever the provocateur ,I thought well why not juxtapose this with something current , and see if I can make a point and or draw some attention to what I believe is one of the major reasons for most of our social problems- crime, failed leadership, take your pick.
    It claims:-
    “Robinson also served as Prime Minister from December 1986 to December 1991.While he was prime minister, he was shot in the leg during the 1990 coup attempt at the Red House and was severely beaten after he famously ordered the armed forces to “attack with full force” in an effort to fend off the attack.
    Robinson’s health problems began soon after he was shot in the leg during the 1990 attempted coup in which he and much of his Cabinet were held hostage by gunmen in the Red House for six days. During the insurrection, he was also hit in the head with a rifle butt by a member of the Jamaat Al Muslimeen…
    Robinson served as President from March 1997 to March 2003. As President he famously declared PNM leader Patrick Manning to be Prime Minister for “moral and spiritual” reasons after the general elections in 2001 resulted in an 18-18 tie between the PNM and UNC….”
    To think that as crimes escalates , many Trinis are nostalgic for the crackshot ,Smoking Uzi, former COP Mr. Randolph Borroughs , as if alive Mr. Bakr ,his gangs would all be dead in a shoot out in his religious Mucorapo hideout.
    Well , 20 years after , this is simply water under the bridge , as the reputation and moral of the Police service would be forever tarnished due to the post attempted coup reactions by both leaders of the succeeding governments.
    But hey, think where it would be today if our leaders in their over over zealousness ,had decided to hired former Police / Prison Commissioner Bernard Kerik ,as our new Commissioner to clean up Trinidad. aren’t we happy we did not again bite that bullet News/ex-nyc-police-boss-kerik-gets-4-years-in-prison/67432527001

    Get well uncle Robinson. I know for a fact who the characters are that would not be wishing you a speedy recovery, but would in actuality wish that you suddenly disappear from this life before any discussions about a comprehensive , independent Commission of Enquiry about our historical 1990 day of infamy.
    Let the disingenuous amongst us clamor for new stellar leaders to take charge and run our country, yet act surprise that few credible ones can be found or dare to come to the fore , especially after they’ve seen how those honest , dedicated , and caring ones of the past are treated with such contempt.

Comments are closed.