The Jamaican Defence Force (JDF) will receive six new Bell 505 JetRanger X light helicopters after the company revealed that it had signed a purchase agreement with the nation on February 8.
This acquisition will increase the JDF’s current fleet of Bell-produced helicopters to ten aircraft, which are used to conduct search and rescue, medical evacuation, humanitarian assistance/disaster relief (HA/DR), national security and training operations. In Jamaican service, the six newly-acquired helicopters will be configured to support public safety operations in the country, while also being used to train international rotorcraft pilots by the JDF’s Caribbean Military Aviation School (CMAS).
Nicholas Peffer, managing director of Bell’s Latin America division, said: “Bell and [the] JDF share a rich history of more than 55 years, and we are committed to delivering the most advanced and economically viable aircraft on the market.” This relationship started in 1963, when the Jamaican military began operating two Bell 47G light helicopters.
“The Bell 505 is a proven asset for public safety operations around the world. We look forward to growing our long-standing relationship with [the] JDF and sustaining their forces with the highest quality aircraft for many more years to come,” Peffer added.
Bell states that the 505 JetRanger X can reach speeds of 232km/h and can carry a useful load of up to 1,500lb (680kg). It boasts that the design of this five-seat light helicopter is optimised for safety, efficiency and reliability through the use of advanced avionics technology.
The firm adds that the 505 shares similarities with the JDF’s Bell 429 GlobalRanger multi-purpose utility helicopter fleet, which will allow for a smoother pilot transition during training operations. With its employment of the Garmin G1000 all-glass avionics suite, the JetRanger X shares a similar avionics setup with the JDF’s fixed-wing trainer aircraft fleet. It will also reduce the overall pilot workload and enhance the learning experience of the students.
Lt Col Brian Lundy, commanding officer of the JDF’s Air Wing, said: “Expanding our Bell fleet to incorporate the Bell 505 adds more versatility to our capability portfolio and supports our mission to protect and serve the citizens of Jamaica. Our team of pilots and maintenance technicians are extremely happy with the training, support and customer service from Bell.”