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The Belize Ministry of National Defense and Border Security received a special-mission-configured Cessna Grand Caravan EX turboprop at a handover ceremony in Ladyville, near the country’s central eastern coast, on 2 March.

The delivery, reported by Cessna parent company Textron Aviation and the US Embassy in Belize, was a donation worth USD 7.84 M (EUR 7.4 M) made by US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) via the US Foreign Military Financing (FMF0 Program.

The handover ceremony for the Grand Caravan EX donated to Belize on 2 March 2023. (Photo: US Embassy, Belize)

“The Grand Caravan EX delivered to the Belize Ministry of National Defense and Border Security will be used as a multi-mission platform for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), casualty evacuation (casevac), search and rescue (SAR), air mobility, light airdrop and other operations as necessary,” Bob Gibbs, Textron Aviation’s vice president for special mission sales, was quoted as saying by a company press release. “This is the first Caravan EX in the service of the Belize Ministry of National Defense and Border Security,” he added.

The Grand Caravan EX donated to Belize is fitted with an electro-optical/infra-red (EO/IR) sensor, operator mission console, tactical radios and datalink, stated Textron Aviation, which added that the company will provide pilot, mission operator and maintenance training, as well as an in-country field service representative.

The Grand Caravan EX donated to Belize, photographed prior to its delivery on 2 March 2023. (Photo: Textron Aviation)

According to the US Embassy in Belize, the aircraft “will modernize the interdiction capabilities of the Belize Defence Force Air Wing, making Belize better equipped to assist with reconnaissance, search and rescue, and military operations throughout the country”.

“The US Foreign Military Financing program is a Department of Defense program designed to improve the defense capabilities of partner nations to help contribute toward common security goals in the region,” the embassy added. “Last year, the United States provided USD 1.6 M in security assistance to Belize through the program, which has included vehicles, training, and communication systems.”

Peter Felstead